March 31, 1999

Refugee Influx Mounts

Brussels/New York: April 1, 1999 — This morning, a DC-8 left Ostend, Belgium for Tirana, Albania, and a second plane left Amsterdam for Skopje, Macedonia to deliver Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)'s supplies to refugees fleeing from Kosovo. The two planes are carrying 50 metric tons of medical material, blankets, tents and plastic sheeting, water tanks, and pumps. Four medical volunteers were on board the Skopje plane and three are on the Tirana plane to reinforce the teams that are already on the ground.

Until three days ago, the refugees in northern Albania and Macedonia could still be cared for by families and local authorities. Now, however, the local facilities have reached a saturation point in both countries while the number of refugee continues to grow by the hour. The teams already present are preparing initial reception points for refugees.

On March 30, another MSF team arrived in Montenegro. This team is currently assessing the situation in the area to plan MSF aid operations there. Later this week, two additional relief cargoes will leave for Macedonia and Albania.

MSF is the world's largest independent international medical relief agency aiding victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural and man-made disasters, and others who lack health care due to geographic remoteness or ethnic marginalization. Each year the organization sends more than 2,000 doctors, nurses, other medical professionals, and logisticians to provide medical aid in more than 83 countries.