Albania + 3 more

UK aid agencies express concern for host families

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News and Press Release
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Leading UK aid agencies today raised concern about the conditions for local communities in Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro who are hosting Kosovan refugees.
Of over 600,000 people, who have fled Kosovo, a large proportion is living with host families or in local community buildings, in Albania over half. Neither of these groups has the capacity to sustain their hospitality during the short term. Increasingly common are reports of families of ten allowing over forty refugees to live in their two-room house, sleeping on the ground.

The majority of the DEC agencies are actively involved in providing relief to both host families and refugees. (See notes to editors)

David Alexander, International Director of British Red Cross said : "The DEC agencies are increasingly concerned about the additional burden that these groups are now having to cope with. Both Albania and Macedonia, two of the poorest countries in Europe with limited means, poor transport links and virtually no communication are providing hospitality to the refugees with limited support from the international community. Whilst the aid agencies are now providing support to the local communities as well as the refugees there remain shortages of the most basic items."

Inspite of significant difficulties there are reports of incredible generosity from communities that have very little. In Macedonia, one small town has 'sponsored' two local spa hotels, which are now housing 300 refugees. The local community is paying the hotels in order that the families can live there, and be provided with three meals a day.

For further information please contact : Juliet Sober/Scott Swinton at the DEC press office (0171) 580 6550

Notes to Editors

- British Red Cross is registering refugees living with host families in Albania and has set up a major pipe line providing 120,000 baby kits for Albania and Macedonia.

- CAFOD are supporting 6,000 refugees in the Lushnja district, over 2,000 in camps and 4,000 in host families with food and hygiene parcels.

- Children's Aid Direct is providing hygiene kits, cooking equipment and linen to 25,000 host families.

- Christian Aid is supporting 6,000 refugees and host families in six districts around Albania with food and non food items.

- Concern has distributed shelter materials to 12,000 refugees staying with host families in the Kukes area.

- Help the Aged/HAI will be working with local organisations to provide food, clothing, blankets and sanitation for older refugees living with families.

- Merlin is providing antibiotics, vital drugs, and clean water to hospitals, refugees and host families in the south and north west of Albania.

- Oxfam is distributing hygiene items to families based in the poorer parts of Tirana.

- Save the Children is working with local organisations to supply basic material aid to local families hosting refugee children, and delivering appropriate healthcare to refugees and host families.

- Tearfund have set up a crisis centre to advise host families, refugees and to seek to provide urgent resources such as hotplates, stoves and heaters to host families.

- World Vision is supporting 22,000 displaced people in Montenegro with food and non food items in factory halls, and is also assisting several hundred families in Albania with immediate aid supplies.

- The DEC appeal has raised over =A320 million since it was launched on 6 April. The member agencies started to spend the money on day one.

- Agencies participating in this appeal are: British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Children's Aid Direct, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, MERLIN, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.

- The appeal telephone number is 0870 6060900

- Teletext on ITV, page 520 will run updates on the DEC appeal

- DEC updates are available on their web site www.dec.org.uk