Up to 370,000 Albanians have fled Kosovo and neighbouring countries are being overwhelmed by the human tide of misery.
Long columns of cold, distraught people with virtually no possessions and no means of support are still trying to cross the borders into countries where they face an uncertain future.
The money raised by The Independent will be used to buy food, shelter, warm clothes and sanitation for the displaced people. The weather is still wintry in the Balkans, and most of the refugees have only the clothes on their backs.
The British aid organisations at the forefront of the international relief operation say they need a massive injection of funds to alleviate the plight of the refugees.
Donations to The Independent appeal will be handled by the Disasters Emergency Committee, which represents 15 charities, including Oxfam, the Red Cross and Save the Children.
A telephone line has been set up by the Disasters Emergency Committee to take credit card pledges to the appeal, and donations by cheque will be handled free of charge by the banks. The appeal will be backed by a campaign of television and radio broadcasts and a series of newspaper advertisements.