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Exodus of ethnic Albanians from FYR of Macedonia continues: UNHCR

Exodus of ethnic Albanians from FYR of Macedonia continues: UNHCR

Young Macedonian mother and children, refugees in Kosovo
Ethnic Albanians continue to flee the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for Kosovo and southern Serbia, the United Nations refugee agency said today.

Kris Janowski, spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said 2,600 people crossed into Kosovo on Thursday and a few hundred more into southern Serbia. Most of them were using the main border crossing at Blace.

UNHCR also reported arrivals from the FYR of Macedonia (FYROM) in southern Serbia, with about 400 people crossing the border daily, the spokesman said. Most were ethnic Albanians who then headed on to Kosovo, but there were also ethnic Serbs and Macedonians among them. Overall, more than 28,000 people left the FYROM in the past week, Mr. Janowski said, with some 25,000 going to Kosovo and about 3,500 to southern Serbia.

Meanwhile, UN Police uncovered an attempt to smuggle a large quantity of military weapons into Kosovo, the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said today.

On June 14, in the Pec/Peje region, during a random police search of vehicles entering Kosovo, UNMIK Police stopped a truck whose driver fled immediately. A hidden compartment in the truck was found to contain a cache of weapons -- including 318 AK-47 rifles, 605 AK-47 magazines, 1,008 rocket-propelled grenades and 512 hand grenades.

The truck, which originated in Bosnia and carried Bosnian license plates, had entered Kosovo from Montenegro, UNMIK Police said. An investigation was under way to identify the end users of the weapons and those responsible for their importation. "Those are not defensive weapons," said UNMIK Police spokesman Dereck Chappell. "They are weapons of war that could only be used to destabilize Kosovo and the region."