EC plans more aid to Balkan victims

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The Independent Online
BRUSSELS (AP) - The European Community will today allocate more aid for refugees fleeing from the violence in the former Yugoslavia and step up pressure on the warring factions in Bosnia- Herzegovina, officials said.

The 12 EC foreign ministers meeting in Brussels today will also assess the EC-brokered ceasefire that went into effect late yesterday, following talks between Serbian, Croatian and Muslim leaders of Bosnia last week.

Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary and chairman of the meeting, said upon his return from a Balkan tour yesterday that will be tough to assure a lasting ceasefire. His trip took him to Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia and Albania. 'One of the things one learns from actually being (in Bosnia) is that the fears and hatreds which have been unleashed are absolutely formidable.'

Mr Hurd feared that a negative effect of the ceasefire, if it holds long enough, could be an increase in refugees who will use the lull in fighting to seek a safer place.

More than 2 million people have fled their homes to escape the fighting. the EC ministers were expected to decide how 120m ecus ( pounds 84m), earmarked by the EC Commission, could be best spent to provide relief.

Mr Hurd will also press his EC partners to send aid to Macedonia, although Greece has held up its recognition. Athens is demanding Macedonia changes its name and says it invokes territorial claims on the neighbouring Greek province of the same name.

The EC ministers will further discuss the role of EC monitors in the former Yugoslavia and the deployment of ships from member states in the Adriatic.