FYR of Macedonia UNHCR concerned over plight of civilians affected by fighting

Astrid van Genderen Stort, spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Pristina, said the agency was “very concerned that the continuing fighting will prevent further access of humanitarian organizations to the region in order to provide urgently needed aid.” Stressing that freedom of movement must be guaranteed, she said it was essential that no involuntary evacuation out of the country took place, and that people were given a free choice where to go when leaving the conflict zone.The spokesperson also reported that some 500 people had crossed the boundary into Kosovo over the last two days, but at the same time large numbers of people had been spontaneously returning to southern Serbia’s Presevo Valley. Meanwhile, Yugoslav security forces have completed their move into the last sub-sector of the five-kilometre wide Ground Safety Zone, the international security force in Kosovo (KFOR) reported today. According to KFOR, due to the potential mine threat, it will take another 24 to 48 hours to clear the zone for full freedom of movement for people going in and out of the Presevo Valley.

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