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Monday, October 12, 1998 Published at 01:25 GMT 02:25 UK

Weakening refugees face winter's threat

Grieving for a dead mother

By the BBC's Ben Brown in Kosovo

In the rolling hills of Kosovo, some of those who have been fleeing from the Serbs are now dying, as well.

Watch Ben Brown's report
A tent contains the body of a woman called Rahima Brahimi. She was only 30 years old.

Her husband Liaman is left to mourn her and to care for their four children.

[ image: It could be snowing in a couple of weeks]
It could be snowing in a couple of weeks
He says the family had been on the run since March and in that time his wife had grown increasingly hungry and exhausted.

Now that she has gone, her eldest son, 11, is especially inconsolable.

And Kosovo's agony, it seems, knows no end.

"We have faith in Nato and the West that they will act. If things stay like this, the Serbs will massacre us. The only hope we have is from the outside world," Liaman Brahimi says.

Very soon, perhaps in two or three weeks, the weather in Kosovo will change dramatically. It will be snowing and freezing.

More refugees will start to die, just like Rahima. It is why the United Nations demands that President Milosevic lets these people go back to their homes before it is too late.

KLA laying down weapons

Close by, we came across the rebel soldiers of the Kosovo Liberation Army which has been defeated by the Serbs, though not destroyed.

[ image: While laying down their weapons, the KLA says struggle for independence will continue]
While laying down their weapons, the KLA says struggle for independence will continue
The KLA made a point of laying down their weapons. They have declared a temporary truce in their campaign for independence.

They do not want to be accused of provoking further conflict when Nato weighs up whether it too should wage war on the Serbs.

"If Nato will do that, I think it is a good move for the civilians, because they are in a very dangerous situation," says a junior KLA commander called Shkup.

Tonight the rebels are not shooting but singing songs of independence.

Whatever the West decides to do in the coming days, these men insist they will never give up their struggle for outright independence from Serbia.

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