| KOSOVO EXODUS REMINISCENT OF WWII
GENEVA -- Thousands more ethnic Albanian refugees streamed out of Kosovo
on Thursday as U.N. aid officials said the scene reminded them of the dark
days of human suffering during World War II.
An exhausted refugee weeps, top; bottom, a train departs from Pristina carrying ethnic Albanians to the Macedonian border
About 10,000 refugees crossed into Albania on Thursday, and the line
of the displaced people seeking to cross was said to stretch for several
miles (kilometers) from the border back into Kosovo.
More refugee trains arrived Thursday in Macedonia, with ethnic Albanians
repeating the same story: that they were rounded up en masse by Serb police
in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, and forced on trains transporting them
out of the country.
"Witnesses described Pristina as being a ghost town now. Soldiers
told the departing civilians they were getting 'a free ride to Macedonia'
as a 'gift from the government' in exchange for the houses and cars,"
according to a statement on the UNHCR Web site.
Some refugees said they were bused toward the borders of neighboring
countries, then told to walk the rest of the way.
In Morina, Albania, a young man, helping his elderly grandmother come
across the border from Kosovo, told CNN they had been bused, then taken
off the bus and forced to walk more than six hours.
The UNHCR said more than 100,000 of those who have fled Kosovo have
crossed into Albania, another 31,000 have gone to Macedonia, and 30,000
have fled to Montenegro.
Kris Janowski, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees,
said Thursday that more than 160,000 ethnic Albanians had crossed into
Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro in the past nine days, and that the waves
of refugees kept coming.
"UNHCR staff said the scene reminded them at times of the darkest
days at the end of World War II, with refugees streaming in all directions,"
"Everyone interviewed told similar stories of masked men in uniforms
knocking on doors and telling people to leave or be killed," he said.
A jet, loaned to the United Nations by the British government, arrived
Thursday in the Albanian capital, Tirana, with emergency aid supplies for
Marie Heuze, spokeswoman for the U.N. Children's Fund, said the plane
carried emergency health kits for 40,000 people as well as 2,000 children's
blankets, oral rehydration salts, water purification tablets and syringes.
Other aid arriving Thursday was flown in from France and Spain, including
tons of medicine, baby milk and food.
Emma Bonino, the humanitarian affairs commissioner of the European Union,
toured the crisis region and Thursday called for European coordination
and cooperation in coping with the crisis.
Cable News Network