Voila ! Pristina's Serbs flee in thousands - the full account ! (fwd)

David Welch david.welch at SPAMst-edmund-hall.oxford.ac.uk
Thu Aug 12 06:24:30 MDT 1999

----- Forwarded message from "Janet M Eaton" <jeaton at fox.nstn.ca> -----

"UNHCR estimates at least 170,000 Serbs - out of a population of
180,000-200,000 - have fled Kosovo since K-For and the UN arrived in
mid-June", according to the High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR]'s
top official.


THE GUARDIAN [London], Thursday August 12, 1999

Pristina's Serbs flee in thousands

Andrew Gray in Pristina

The United Nations refugee agency said yesterday it believed the Serb
population of Kosovo's capital, Pristina, had shrunk to under 2,000 from an
estimated 40,000 a few months ago.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees office said it was alarmed by the
situation of Serbs in Kosovo, forced to flee by ethnic Albanian gangs using
tactics similar to those used by Serbs earlier this year.

"Conditions for those who remain have noticeably worsened over the last few
weeks, with increasingly violent attacks on the rise," a UNHCR spokesman,
Ron Redmond, said.

"Old women are now being shot through the doors of their apartments -
including two women in their 70s within the past week."

Dennis McNamara, the UNHCR's top official in the Balkans, said Serbia was
now home to nearly 700,000 refugees who had fled regional conflicts this

"Perpetuating the refugee cycle is going to destabilise the region," said Mr
McNamara, who is deputy to Bernard Kouchner, the UN mission chief in Kosovo.

Nato's air strikes were designed to stop the mass expulsion of ethnic
Albanians - the great majority in Kosovo by Serbs. But the alliance now
seems powerless to stop Serbs in turn being driven out.

UNHCR estimates at least 170,000 Serbs - out of a population of
180,000-200,000 - have fled Kosovo since K-For and the UN arrived in
mid-June, Mr McNamara said.

The previous size of the Serb population in Pristina - which has about
250,000 inhabitants - is disputed. But a drop to 1,000-2,000 in a few months
is dramatic.

Mr Redmond said expulsions of Serbs appeared systematic, but UNHCR did not
know who was behind them. "A disturbing pattern has arisen in the method of
intimidation used against Serbs still in the city," he said.

"First a warning letter is received ordering them to leave their homes, then
the threat is delivered in person, followed a few days later by physical
assault, in some cases even murder... [Serbs'] freedom of movement is
virtually non-existent."

Refugee agency officials say entire blocks of flats may be cleared by ethnic
Albanian gangs, who first force Serbs to sign documents transferring
ownership of their homes.

Nato peacekeepers said yesterday that they had arrested 78 people in the
past 24 hours.

-----End of forwarded message from "Janet M Eaton" <jeaton at fox.nstn.ca> -----

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