War in the Balkans: pounds 400,000 donated to Independent's appeal

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The Independent Online
READERS OF The Independent have raised nearlypounds 400,000 to help the refugees from Kosovo. The appeal - launched two weeks ago - is part of an effort co-ordinated by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to help those affected by the war.

That wider appeal has now topped pounds 12m. "Its phenomenal," said a spokesman for the DEC. With more money coming in all the time, Muslim Aid, which has already allocated pounds 610,000 towards the relief effort, also announced it has increased its pledge to pounds 1m. The charity is now also considering chartering a plane next week to take relief supplies to refugees in Albania.

The national joint appeal has been organised on behalf of 15 charities, which include the British Red Cross, Christian Aid, Cafod, Care International UK, Children's Aid Direct, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision

The DEC spokesman continued: "Staff are working flat out to sort postal donations, which are just getting bigger and bigger. We just hope donations keep on coming in."

More than 500,000 Kosovo Albanians have either fled or been forced from their homes by Serb ethnic cleansing of the province. Since the exodus began two weeks ago, civilians have been flooding into Albania, Macedonia and the Yugoslav province of Montenegro. More than 300,000 refugees have entered Albania alone.

The money raised by The Independent will be used to buy food, shelter, warm clothes and sanitation for the displaced people.

Tents, blankets and medical supplies are also being sent to the region. The weather is still wintry in the Balkans, and most of the refugees have only the clothes on their backs.