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The crisis in Kosovo in spring 1999 has resulted in a major exodus of people fleeing the former autonomous province of Serbia. The major influxes of refugees headed toward Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYROM). The total number of Kosovar refugees that entered the fYROM in spring 1999 has been estimated by UNHCR at more than 270 000. The total population of the fYROM is little more than 2 200 000 inhabitants, and before the crisis its National Health System was already stretched to the limit trying to provide free health care to its citizens.
In fYROM the vast majority of refugees have found refuge in the north west part of the country where there is a substantial proportion of ethnic Albanians. The refugees have been hosted in camps and by local families.
At the height of the crisis the number of refugees in camps was in excess of 120 000 in seven destination camps plus a transit camp at the Blace border between Kosovo and fYROM. Because of the continuous influx into the country and the humanitarian and medical evacuation programmes, the total number of refugees that transited trough camps in fYROM from April to July 1999 is much higher with estimates nearing 200 000.
UNHCR provided daily reliable population estimates both for the refugees in camps and in host families, but because of the logistical difficulties of a registration process the exact numbers cannot be calculated.
The seven camps were built in successive steps, starting in April 1999, trying to respond to the increasing number of refugees. The camps were managed by UNHCR, which coordinated the work of the International Organisations (IOs), National Agencies (NAs) and the Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that provided, directly or indirectly, health care, shelter, food, sanitation, clothing, etc, to the refugees.
Although some information was …
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