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Tuesday, April 27, 1999 Published at 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK

World: Europe

Refugees 'to sleep on the ground'

The UN has warned of overcrowding in the Macedonian camps

The United Nations has warned that refugees arriving from Kosovo will have to sleep on the ground because of overcrowding in camps in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Kosovo: Special Report
Around 3,500 refugees arrived in Macedonia on Monday - the largest daily influx in more than a week.

(Click here to see a map of refugee movements.)

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says its attempts to offer basic shelter are being frustrated by bureaucratic delays.

Clive Myrie: Reports of atrocities refuse to go away
Refugees arriving in Albania are continuing to report cases of rape and molestation by of Serbian soldiers and paramilitary groups.

Around 450 refugees crossed the border into northern Albania overnight after a lull of a few days.

One group of around 230, most of them women and children, said they had been ill-treated.

They said the Serb forces had entered their village of Dragacina in south-western Kosovo, rounded them up and taken them to a nearby town.

'Held for six days'

Claire Doole: Refugee camps hopelessly overcrowded
They were held in a building for six days and regularly physically abused, they said.

The UN spokesman said that the tone of the women's stories suggested some of them had been raped, though cultural factors made it difficult for them to say this explicitly.

On being released, they were ordered to leave Kosovo.

Refugees urged to move on

The UN is trying to persuade the refugees who have reached Albania to move south, due to overcrowding and security concerns near the Kosovo border.

Many are reluctant to leave, wanting to stay as near to Kosovo as possible.

There are still 500,000 displaced people in Kosovo, many of them trying to reach the Albanian border, according to Nato and UNHCR estimates.

The humanitarian evacuation of particularly vulnerable refugees has speeded up. A total of 1,252 persons were flown to other European countries on Monday

Kosovo newspaper reborn

The first issue of the relaunched Kosovo Albanian newspaper, Koha Ditore, has been distributed free in refugee camps in Macedonia.

The editor, Baton Haxhiu, said it was a bridge between Kosovo and its deported people, intended to give them hope that they would soon be back home.

The relaunched paper has received funding from the United Kingdom Foreign Office, which paid for computers, Internet links and newsprint.

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