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Long road home jammed by refugees.

More than 170,000 Kosovo Albanians have gone back to their homes in little more than a week, and thousands more continue to jam the roads into the province, the United Nations refugee agency said yesterday.

Some 33,000 people entered Kosovo on Monday alone, and only a few hundred are left in the camps in northern Albania which until last week housed 35,000 refugees, said Mr Kris Janowski, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

"UNHCR and other aid agencies are rapidly expanding their presence in Kosovo to keep up with what is the Balkans' fastest spontaneous refugee return movement during the 1990s wars," said Mr Janowski.

The agency estimates that 109,000 people have returned from Albania and around 60,000 from Macedonia. A first group of 800 people returned from Montenegro on Monday.

UNHCR statistics say there are still almost 600,000 people in camps and host families in the countries surrounding Kosovo. Some 88,000 more have been evacuated to third countries around the globe.

Mr Patrick McCormick, spokesman for the United Nations Children's Fund, said there was a high level of destruction in towns west and south of Pristina, the provincial capital.

"We have just finished a survey of schools in seven municipalities in this area, and out of 13 schools five were demolished, four burnt, one suspected of being booby-trapped, and the remaining three were okay," he said.

"If this is an indication of what we will find throughout Kosovo, our aim of getting all Kosovar children back to school by September 1 is looking pretty ambitious."
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 23, 1999
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