Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Some Expelled at Remote Crossing Rugged Area Hard to Reach to Deliver Aid

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Some Expelled at Remote Crossing Rugged Area Hard to Reach to Deliver Aid

Article excerpt

QAFE E PRUSHIT, Albania -- The refugees -- mostly women and children -- struggle down a path of ankle-deep mud toward the nearest village 9 miles away. Of the thousands of Albanian refugees streaming out of Kosovo, those who arrive here are among the most miserable.

The rugged border area between Kosovo and Albania is virtually inaccessible to Western relief agencies, an area where those who are ill cannot be easily cared for.

"If we don't do something quickly, people are going to start to die," said Carit Vanasy, a field officer for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, walking among about 300 women and children huddled in a small meadow.

About 3,000 refugees had crossed at Qafe E Prushit (pronounced CHAF-pru-she) after walking 6 miles from the Kosovo city of Djakovica. They said they were ordered to leave Djakovica by Yugoslav police and militiamen moving from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Few were young men, who fled the city early this week either to escape possible Serb retribution or join the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army, they said.

Once at the border, the refugees were expelled with cold efficiency.

As U.N. officials watched, Serb special forces gathered the ethnic Albanians at a clearing and stripped them of money and identification.

Then the refugees were taken under armed escort through a mine field to within a few yards of a ramshackle Albanian customs post.

"Now go home to Albania," the refugees were told, though many have never been outside the Serbian province of Kosovo.

Once over the border, they are on their own.

A bag of sugar, some shirts and bread was all 74-year-old Hazir Hajredini managed to stuff into a small sack, which dangled from the end of an umbrella resting on his shoulder. He stared hard at the Yugoslav soldiers.

"I won't go back unless Kosovo is free," he spat.

A young woman walked past carrying her 2-week-old daughter covered completely by a blue blanket. A toddler, sucking hungrily on an empty bottle, brushed past the old man. A young boy playfully mimicked the order he apparently heard from Serb authorities: "Documents, documents. …

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