Kosovo refugees in crisis

John Nadler,Kosovo
Tuesday 11 August 1998 23:02

THREE WEEKS into the Yugo-slav military offensive against the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) that has seen scores of ethnic Albanian villages destroyed, international aid agencies warned yesterday of a humanitarian crisis.

"Refugees are living from food that has been stockpiled," said Richard Floyer-Acland, Field Officer for the UN refugee organisation UNHCR. "But unless we start getting more resources in by the winter it's going to be a serious problem."

The desperation of Kosovo's 200,000 displaced people was evident yesterday during an UNHCR aid convoy to Qirez, a village about 25 km west of Pristina in a wedge of territory that is still held by the KLA.

A refugee centre for the embattled Drenica region, Qirez now holds about 6,000 people. including the sick, young and elderly."My house has 80 people living in it," said a local farmer. who housed 15 family members before the war.

One aid worker said: "Starving [ethnic Albanians] out seems to be the policy."

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