Britain and the US have today announced that they will be taking in refugees fleeing violence in Kosovo. The US has said that they will take in at least twenty thousand, but the British have yet to make clear the numbers they will admit. Previously the British government had insisted that the dispersing of refugees around the world would be to accept Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s ethnic cleansing policy.

Robin Cook has said that the Macedonian government has agreed to establish a holding area for up to 100,000 ethnic Albanians stranded on its border with Kosovo. He said that the camp could take up to 100,000 refugees, easing the immediate pressure off the border area where there have been reports of deaths as the humanitarian crisis grows.

The agreement with Macedonia comes after NATO announced a major operation to save the lives of thousands of refugees who have fled Kosovo since the beginning of air strikes against Yugoslavia. The operation includes NATO feeding stations in Macedonia and the setting up of a NATO field headquarters to Albania to help the government there to ferry aid to refugees. The Macedonian government has said that the European Union has promised to accommodate at least 100,000 ethnic Albanian refugees flooding into Macedonia from Kosovo.

Almost three hundred thousand people are now said to have left their homes in Kosovo. NATO members and non-aligned states, including Ireland, are preparing relief operations for the ethnic Albanians seeking refuge in Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. The Irish aid agency, GOAL, is distributing several tonnes of aid to refugees in the Northern Albanian town of Kukes today. In Brussels, NATO spokesman, Jamie Shea, told CNN that more than one million ethnic Albanians were trapped in Kosovo.