Kosovo update: Macedonia - April 19, 1999

According to UNCHR, there are an estimated 45,600 refugees living in the different camps of Brazda, Stankovac, Bojane, Neprosteno, Radusa, Senokos and Radusa Collecitve. Another approximately 77,300 more refugees are being hosted with families in the local communities. This brings a total of 122,900 refugees. The UNHCR estimates that 30,430 refugee have been flown out evacuations to third countries - (all figures from UNHCR as of April 17, 1999). Human evacuation is still pressing and the UNHCR estimates that approximately 1,000 people per day are being transferred to third countries.

The pressing issue for the aid sites is a lack of space for the influx of new refugees. It is not as if the refugees are arriving by set numbers where organisations can estimate the demand to be placed on the existing facilities. There are rumours about new refugees arriving at the two main border crossings at Blace and Jacinza - both North of Skopje), but no confirmation as yet by MSF. MSF Operations: At the Brazda camp, the UNHCR estimates there are 25,000 refugees and MSF has two clinics in operation where we handle over 1,000 consultations per day.

One of the clinics has been running a 24 hour-a-day service over the past few days to handle the new influx of refugees coming across the Blace border. Refugee movements are very hard to predict. On Saturday, (April 17), there were 500 new arrivals. On the Thursday and Friday previous, about 6,000 new arrivals came through. They arrived in 60 buses and most have found their way to the Brazda and Stankovic camps. Though transport has improved however, according to field accounts, the refugees found themselves sitting in cramped buses for seven hours in the burning sun before being taken to the camps. Transport, according to the UNHCR is the responsibility of the Macedonian government.

The Radusa camp has between 1,200 - 1,400 refugees (National Health Institute's figure). MSF has one clinic and some water and sanitation activities. The camp is located in the mountains and is completely fenced in. The refugees are not allowed to go in or out and the camp is completely packed. There are discussions going on regarding extending this site, but it is difficult and it is unknown when and how. Mental health : The team is very busy with assessments in the districts and camps. Yesterday (April 18, 1999) they were assessing the situation in Radusa.

On Saturday, they visited Brazda camp and the communities. The plan is to set up a support system for the camps and the communities. Districts and Skopje : MSF has close contact with a local NGO, El Hilal. We will probably support this NGO as they are running out of relief material. Concrete plans will be made as soon as possible to support the existing medical structure in the areas mostly affected by the influx of refugees in the Western part of Macedonia.