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17 - Operation Allied Harbour


While Operation "Allied Force" was in progress, over 12,000 NATO troops were deployed in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2) either as part of the former Extraction Force or to be ready to execute a peace implementation mission, under the leadership of the ARRC.

At the same time, there was an increase in the flow of refugees from Kosovo to Montenegro, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2) and particularly Albania, all wishing to escape the brutal repression from the Serb forces. Albania embraced the Kosovars and, at the height of the emergency, there were nearly half a million refugees living with host families, in collection centres and refugee camps.

In response to this humanitarian crisis, the North Atlantic Council decided to deploy the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force Land Component (AMF/L) headquarters to Albania, with the task of forming a NATO-led Albania Force (AFOR). AFOR was to assist the Albanian Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, the designated lead humanitarian agency) in resolving the refugee crisis. This operation was named "Allied Harbour."

On 10 April 1999 the Commander of AMF(L) deployed with a core command staff, via HQ AFSOUTH, to Albania to confirm the military requirements for AFOR and to take control in country from a predeployed AFSOUTH Command and Control node. The staff initially operated from the Albanian Ministry of Defence before opening its own headquarters in Durres.

Transfer of Authority was issued on 16 April 1999 and HQ AFOR embarked on a five month mission, helping Albania to absorb nearly half a million refugees, and later providing the necessary support to facilitate their return to Kosovo. During its mission AFOR, among many accomplishments, built or supported the construction of 21 camps, moved over 31,000 tons of humanitarian aid, relocated 80,000 refugees and repatriated about 180,000.

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