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Thursday, May 13, 1999 Published at 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK

World: Europe

New wave of refugees in Macedonia

Refugees in Macedonia - keeping up the spirit

Dozens of Kosovo-Albanian refugees have crossed the main Kosovo-Macedonia border - the first significant crossing since the border was temporarily closed over a week ago.

Kosovo: Special Report
Many of the group of 47 - consisting of women, children and a few men - were allowed to pass without proper documents, according to the United Nations refugee organisation.

Since the Macedonian authorites closed the border for one day last week, pushing back up to 1,000 refugees, only a trickle have crossed into the former Yugoslav republic.

Several trains were said to have arrived at the border town of Djeneral Jankovic in recent days, only to be turned back northwards.

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

Orla Guerin: "Refugees say the Serb military has not retreated yet"
Meanwhile, the number of refugees in nine camps set up in Macedonia continues to fall, as 2,500 or so leave daily on evacuation flights heading mainly to western Europe and North America.

The UNHCR estimates there are now 234,500 refugees in Macedonia, a number which takes into account several thousand who were not previously registered.

'Strong Serb presence in Kosovo'

The new arrivals said they had boarded a train in the southern Kosovo town of Urosevac, after hearing the border had been reopened, and were allowed to cross into Macedonia.

The BBC's Jim Fish says refugees looked tired - but in reasonable condition
They said they had been evicted from their homes in Kacanik and Urosevac soon after the air strikes began seven weeks ago.

Some of them reported a continuing strong military presence and activity in Kosovo, with no sign that Yugoslav troops or security forces were preparing to withdraw.

Aid workers at the border say they do not expect another mass exodus imminently, but building work is continuing on the temporary transit camp at the border, which is to house up to 10,000 should there be a fresh wave of refugees.

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