Catholic Relief Services responding to needs of those displaced by fighting in Macedonia

Report
from Catholic Relief Services
Published on 27 Mar 2001
Skopje, Macedonia, March 27, 2001- Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is providing aid to an increasing number of refugees in Kosovo displaced by escalating fighting in northern Macedonia. With Macedonian security forces attempting to dislodge ethnic-Albanian rebels from the Tetovo area, nearly 5,000 Macedonians have crossed over the Sar Mountains on foot, arriving in the Prizren area of Kosovo.
"Most refugees are finding shelter with host families in Prizren-some of the same families who were sheltered by Macedonians during the Kosovo crisis of 1999," said Rick Estridge, CRS Zonal Director for Kosovo. "But CRS is preparing its large warehouse in Prizren to house those who cannot be placed with host families."

CRS, coordinating efforts in Kosovo with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Caritas Network, is providing emergency rations and hygiene packs to the refugees. Additionally, CRS trucks are traveling the mountain roads between the border and Prizren to help transport refugees and their possessions.

Meanwhile, in Macedonia, CRS is supporting a rapidly growing ribbons-for-peace campaign radiating from the capital, Skopje. With public gatherings forbidden in Macedonia due to the increasing tensions, the wearing of the blue ribbons-distributed with a card printed with the word "peace" in the four major languages of Macedonia-is intended to serve as a strong and cohesive statement for peace in the region. The campaign has been featured on national television in the country, and a growing number of schools and community groups are participating.

CRS has worked in the region for nearly a decade and has offices in Macedonia and Kosovo carrying out a number of relief and development programs, including in education and microfinance. The agency's initial assistance to Macedonia focused on relief efforts in response to the large influx of victims seeking refuge from the Bosnian war. During the 1999 Kosovo crisis, CRS was responsible for humanitarian relief efforts, including distribution of food and non-food to over 300,000 beneficiaries.

CONTACT:

Joe Carney
(410) 625-2220, ext. 3615
jcarney@catholicrelief.org
or
Tom Price (Skopje)
Mobile (389-70) 278-579
Office (389-91) 144-144
tprice@catholicrelief.org.mk

Copyright=A92001 CRS