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Fort Dix Preps for Kosovo Refugees

April 24, 1999

FORT DIX, N.J. (AP) _ The first wave of Kosovo refugees to be housed temporarily in the United States are expected to arrive Friday and will stay at Fort Dix, the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill reported today.

The United States has offered to take in 20,000 refugees on a temporary basis. Since NATO began its air assault on March 24, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that more than 600,000 people, the vast majority of them ethnic Albanians, have left Kosovo.

Police departments in towns surrounding Fort Dix were briefed by military officials Friday and told to expect the first group of refugees in a week, the newspaper said.

Pemberton Township Mayor Thalia Kay said Police Chief Paul Tuliano Jr. was advised that the first 1,500 to 2,000 refugees would probably arrive Friday.

``From what he was told, it is definite and it will be the only base to accept refugees,″ Kay said. ``We also were told they will be coming on a temporary basis and that the Red Cross in Europe is screening refugees in Macedonia to see which ones have relatives and friends in the U.S. That will be the criteria _ they must have ties here.″

Base spokeswoman Carolee Nisbet on Friday said only that ``contingency plans are proceeding.″ The Department of Defense has not said where refugees would be processed.

Formerly an Army basic training center, Fort Dix, located about 15 miles southeast of Trenton, now conducts reserve training and processing of troops for overseas deployment.

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