War In The Balkans: The Independent Appeal

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THE INDEPENDENT is appealing to readers to help refugee victims of the war. Up to 250,000 Albanians have fled Kosovo.

Impoverished neighbouring countries are overwhelmed by the columns of cold, distraught people with no possessions and no means of support trying to cross to safety.

British aid organisations at the forefront of the international relief operation say they need a massive injection of funds. 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.

Since the exodus fromKosovo began last week, civilians have been flooding into Albania, Macedonia and the Yugoslav province of Montenegro. At least 100,000 refugees have entered Albania alone.

Money raised by The Independent will be used for food, shelter, 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.

A telephone line has been set up by the Disasters Emergency Committee to take credit-card pledges to the appeal. Donations by cheque will be handled free by banks.

The appeal will be backed by a campaign of television and radio broadcasts and a number of newspaper advertisements.