Back to Archive Hope on the Balkans   Kosov@ Crisis 1999
Back to Kosov@ Crisis 1999
News Archive 1999

Over 33,000 Serbian refugees left Kosovo since last Wednesday

An official of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the eastern Montenegrin town of Rozaje near the Kosovo border said around 2,000 people, mostly Serbs and Montenegrins, had crossed over from dawn to midday Monday. She said that since last Wednesday, around 15,000 people had entered the Montenegro at two different crossing points. Most of them had continued on into Serbia.

The UNHCR figures were far higher than estimates issued earlier Monday in Geneva by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which said 24,000 Serbian civilians in Kosovo had fled to other parts of Serbia since last Wednesday and another 9,000 into Montenegro. The independent Serbian news agency Beta said unofficial estimates showed about 3,000 refugees had arrived in Kragujevac, on top of about 5,000 housed in the area after fleeing the wars in Croatia and Bosnia. "All of our reserves have been exhausted and Kragujevac needs huge aid in food, medicine and other goods," Beta quoted Vesna Pajevic, deputy president of the city's executive board, as saying.

As reported by Radio Free Europe, first Serbian refugees from Kosovo arrived late Sunday night to outskirts of Belgrade. One group arrived in Mladenovac and another is in Bubanj Potok. Refugees told reporters that there was no organized help along their way. State-controlled media is completely silent about thousands of Serbian refugees, just like they were about Albanian refugees. Milosevic's regime uses phrase "internally displaced persons" for refugees, since they are still on territory of FRY. Convoy of 30 tractors which arrived to Bubanj Potok were stopped there by police. Refugees are mostly from Prizren and nearby villages, and all of them have relatives in Belgrade. Police insisted that return refugees in Jerina hotel near Smederevo, where temporary settlement for refugees has been organized. People refused to return and they insisted on staying with relatives in Belgrade. Only several cars were allowed to enter city. A little later, local Red Cross and volunteers arrived and tried to help people by providing food and water, since there are mostly women, children and elderly people in convoy. Refugees said they received orders by Yugoslav army to leave their homes because KLA guerillas approached Prizren.

Among refugees, there is general agreement - even from a Serbian soldiers leaving Kosovo - that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is to blame for Kosovo's grief and could face tough criticism from Serbs forced to leave the province for life as refugees. "Because of him, innocent people are dying and we have to leave," said the soldier in Prizren, who didn't want to give his name. "Many people will now be against him."

Source: Free Serbia

Back to Archive | Back to Kosov@ Crisis 1999