Roma camp in Djakovica
Roma camp in Djakovica - under constant KFOR protection

PAUL POLANSKY

REPORTS ON POST WAR ROMA SUFFERING
IN KOSOVO

Reps 16-30 (previous reports)

 

REPORT NUMBER: 16

Date: 1 June 2000

Location: Medvec, a community of 57 Ashkalij families near Pristina airport.

Informant(s): Several community leaders of Medvec.

Food: Until March they had a sufficient supply of food to get by on. But starting with the April delivery their food aid has been cut in half or less. They are now desperate, feeling they wont be able to survive and will have to go abroad. Last month two families came back from Macedonia but with no extra food for them in the village, they are already packing up to return to Macedonia and may take most of the village with them. These are the food aid statistics given to us: All numbers relate to kilos per person per month. Their food is delivered by Children's Aid Direct.

Before April: 12 kilos flour, 2 kilos beans, 1 kilo rice, 1 liter oil, 1.2 kilo salt, 300 grams sugar.
After April:. 5 kilos flour, 1 kilo beans, 1 kilo rice, ½ liter oil, 700 grams salt, no sugar.

Hygiene: They received some hygiene products last September from Oxfam, but have received nothing else since then although they were promised a regular supply. Hygiene is one of their biggest problems. They have no soap, no washing detergent.

Security: Security has never been a big problem for them except for the first two weeks after the war. They get on well with their Albanian neighbors. The families who have left their village have done so out of hunger, not out of fear of attack by Albanians.

Medical Aid: Medicine du Monde comes once a week to check up on their needs. The villagers are pleased with the medical aid they are getting and have no complaints whatsoever.

Clothes & Shoes: When Canadian KFOR was in the area, they gave the villages many bundles of clothes and shoes. About 70% of the families have enough clothes and shoes, but 30% are still in need.

Education: Children from age 7 to 11 go to the local school down by the highway. The older children would have to go to a school further away so they don't go because they are afraid of attacks by Albanians outside of their area. There is no school bus and no KFOR escort.

Shopping: They have no money to go shopping. Most families used to have a cow or goat but those were sold after the war to buy food. Now they are desperate for milk. Their children have had no milk since the start of the NATO bombing.


Jobs: This is their biggest problem. Almost all the men in the village used to work in the local magnesium mine. The mine was closed during the NATO bombing. The mine reopened shortly after the war, but only Albanians are now allowed to work there. There are no other jobs available in the area. The families of this village have always lived off the local mines. Their ancestors were brought here hundreds of years ago to work in the mines.

Transportation: There is no public transportation for them, no KFOR escorted buses. They live in a small village nestled in the hills behind Pristina airport. They are afraid to venture out of the hills. They still hear of Gypsies being kidnaped and killed who go on the highway even in cars.

Communications: A few families in the community have mobile phones but they have no money to buy a phone chip. They can still receive in-coming calls but can not call out.

Other Problems: After food, their biggest desire is to find milk for their children. Although they live in an agriculture setting, they own only the land their homes stand on and a small garden. Most families do not have enough land to support fodder for a cow, but they feel if every family had a goat their milk problem would be solved. They asked me to find them 40 goats.

A Benedictine Monk from Austria who is building 50 homes for Albanians in nearby Magura, is building a new home for the poorest (and largest) family in Medvec (the family pictured on the cover of the STP survey of Gypsy communities in Kosova). Ironically, this might be the first family to leave Medvec and go abroad because of lack of food.


REPORT NUMBER: 17

Date: 2 June 2000

Location: Preoce

This morning at 7:30 we heard a bomb go off behind our home. I did not pay much attention to it since this has happened quite often during our travels around Kosovo. By the time we left for Pristina at 8 a.m. no neighbors had reported anything unusual. However, when we return at 10 a.m. from sending my emails we found the village in an uproar. A Serb car from the neighboring village of Batuse had been blown up that morning on the gravel road behind our home. Five Serbs were reported dead with body parts scattered over a wide area. Hisen and I immediately drove over to the scene. Norwegian KFOR was already there with the road blocked. Many young Serb men from Preoce were also there, shouting insults at KFOR and swearing about the lack of protection.

I spoke with a Norwegian major in charge. He said he could only confirm two dead. I asked about reports that two children had also been injured. He said he could not comment. Only that a landmine in the road had blown up a car and that two men were confirmed dead.

The local Serbs were sure that the landmine was intended for a local school bus that carried 80 children (2/3rd Serb, 1/3 Roma) every day on this road at this time. No other vehicle used this road every day. Since the road only connected nearby Serb villages, the school bus never had a KFOR escort like the school buses using the main highway.

Shortly after I arrived, a reporter for AP turned up. He has been in Kosovo since October. He had heard about me and we arranged to meet later. He said he had reported on several drive-by shootings this week that had left seven Serbs dead. He said drive-by shootings was now the rage in Kosovo. He warned me to be careful on the streets in Pristina and the main highway.

Before we left, several young Serb men said they wanted to talk with me. They said I might be responsible for planting the landmine in the road. They said I was the only one who had been using the road beside the school bus. They said I was an American, their enemy.

I really didn't know how to respond. I thought I was very well liked and respected in their village. I had been invited into several of their homes for supper and coffee, and had played pool in the local bar with many of them who were now standing there, accusing me of murder. Only last week I had given their Serb doctor three boxes of medicine that Society for Threatened People had sent out for Kosovo. Their doctor had been very grateful saying that this was the first medicine anyone from the West had given them.

The young Serbs were unrepentant. They said that I would have problems if I stayed in their village and that Hisen would also have problems because he was my interpreter. They said that they would also have to deal with Ado who had been letting us sleep in his home. They said the Serb army was soon coming back to deal with all Gypsies, then the Albanians.

Hisen and I returned home and packed our bags for Macedonia. We decided to take everything and not to return for several days until the village cooled down. Ado and his father came with us for the drive to Macedonia. They also felt it would be best for them to leave town for a few days also.

At the border we were refused entry into Macedonia. I don't know if it was because of our visit last week to the collective centers or if it was because our car only had transit plates that run out on June 6th. The lady at passport control said it was our car and made us turn around and return to Kosovo.

After visiting Ferizaj (report number 18), we dropped Ado and his father on the outskirts of Preoce and continued on our way to Pristina. Our plan is to stay on the road for the next week, never spending more than a few hours in anyone village. Since Plemetina is a Serb village and most Serbs have relatives in Preoce we don't feel it is wise to stay anymore in Plemetina either.


REPORT NUMBER: 18

Date: 2 June 2000

Location: Ferizaj, Romani community.

Informant(s): Rexhep Jashari, a Kovachi Rom who has lived in Ferizaj all his life. All his ancestors were from Ferizaj.

Food: Until now they have received food aid. But ten days ago it was stopped and their ration card was taken supposedly to a new organization. They believe they will continue to receive aid. They don't have enough money to buy food, but hopefully they will be able to find work in the near future if they don't receive food aid.

Hygiene: Since the end of the war they have received hygiene products every two weeks. Mother Teresa, ADRA, and CARE have all supplied them with soap and detergent and toothpaste.

Security: They have no problems in their neighborhood. They don't think they need KFOR anymore. They haven't had a Gypsy beaten up by Albanians in more than seven months.

Medical Aid: Every two weeks they are visited by Medicine du Monde Greece. They get everything they need.

Clothes & Shoes: They do not need any clothes or shoes.

Education: All the children go to school with Albanians. They have no problems.

Shopping: They have no problems shopping anywhere in town.

Jobs: Most of the Gypsies are returning to their old jobs in the factories. About ten Roma have jobs interpreting with KFOR. The informant doesnt have a job yet. He was working before for the city installing sewage pipes but he hasnt been called back to work yet. He hopes to have a job soon.

Transportation: They can ride the city bus with no problems. The informant has also taken the bus to Pristina, but he admits he can pass for white and no one thinks he is Rom.

Communications: He has a telephone in his home. There is no problem contacting other relatives if they have a phone.

Other Problems: Two weeks ago three Majupi homes were burned in Ferizaj. Two Ashkalij and one Rom houses were burned in the Haliti Ibish area of town. These homes were not in the Gypsy quarter of town, but in the Albanian part of town, that's why they were burned.


REPORT NUMBER: 19

Date: 3 June 2000

Location: Suhareka, Romani Kovachi home.

Informant(s): Hava Berisha, mother of two adult, invalid children. Her husband was away when we arrived.

Food: They received food aid until two weeks ago. They have been told it has now been stopped.

Hygiene: They continue to receive hygiene products every two or three weeks but they don't know who is the aid agency.

Security: Security is so bad that nobody comes to see them and they seldom venture out on the streets. They live behind a wall-in compound with their house and old blacksmith shop. They have a huge sheep dog chained to the metal gate leading into their compound.

Medical Aid: Both her disabled children desperately need medical aid but no one has ever come by to visit them. Her daughter is 35 years old and her son is 31. Both are spastic. The daughter now has badly swollen ankles.

Clothes & Shoes: They don't have many clothes but they have received some boots from an aid agency. They say they don't need much since they can't go out.

Education: This is the only Romani house left in town. There are no longer any Romani children to go to school. All the Roma have gone to Macedonia.

Shopping: They have no problem going to a local shop nearby where they are known. But they are afraid to venture out any further.

Jobs: Before the war she worked cleaning the local school. She is 60 years old. She tried to get her old job back but couldn't. She went to the doctor to see if she could get a pension since she isn't well, but the doctor told her she had to be 70 years old to get a pension. Her husband is 68 years old. He used to do blacksmith work but now has no customers.

Transportation: There is no KFOR transportation to visit relatives. Her husband, who can pass for white, took the bus today to Prizren to try to make a passport for them to join relatives in Germany. A relative in Germany sent them money to make their passport.

Communications: They have a telephone but it only works for calls in their local neighborhood, not for long distance.


Other Problems: One week ago some Albanians tried to get them to open their door. She told them to go away, she had done nothing wrong. She had two disabled children and they never left the house. One of the Albanians produced a hand grenade and told them to give them money or they would be killed. Her husband gave the Albanians 250 DM.


REPORT NUMBER: 22

Date: 4 June 2000

Location: Janjevo (Lipjan). 220 Roma people, one house is Kovachi, the rest Chisto Rom, Arlija.

Informant(s): Ismal Kradina, Hamdi Gashi, leaders of the Romani community here.

Food: They receive food aid from UNHCR via CARE. UNMIK and KFOR have brought them some clothes. Every month they receive. 12 kilos per person per month; 1 liter of oil per person, 2 kilos of beans per person, 2 kilos of rice per person, 200 grams salt and 200 grams of sugar per person. With the flour and the beans they have enough.

Hygiene: Then receive some soap in November 1999, but have received nothing more. They would like to trade some food for soap.

Security: Finland KFOR run the security here. They are very good. The Roma have no problems, no complaints.

Medical Aid: They have a Bosnian doctor here and a small clinic. They are happy with the doctor but he has no medical supplies. They are in desperate need of medicine.

Clothes & Shoes: See above.

Education: The children go to a Croat school, learning Serbian. There are Roma, Turk, Croatian and Albanian in this village, but no Serbs. There are no problems in the school. It is one big school where all these nationalities attend. Each has their own classroom and are taught in their own language.

Shopping: There are no problems.

Jobs: Nobody has a full-time job here. People do private work, getting enough money for cigarettes and other things.

Transportation: KFOR invited them to have some transportation but the Roma have no desire to leave Janjevo. They are free here and don't want the problems of going to other places where it may not be as safe. They have their shops and market here. They need nothing else.

Communications: The president of the Roma has a telephone but since the NATO bombing it no longer works. Some people have mobile telephones and if they go on top the hill or one kilometer from here they can call outside the area.


Other Problems: The biggest problem they have is that they have no jobs. They would all like to work and make some money. The only other problem they have is that they are not free to travel around Kosovo to see relatives. These are the only two problems they have.

 

Observations: In Janjevo there are about 1,600 Albanians, about 1,500 Croats, about 60 Turks, about 220 Roma. They don't have any problems living together, but it is like a prison because they can go nowhere, it is not safe to go anywhere else. Before the war, the Roma and the Croats traveled a lot to neighboring markets to sell textiles, jewelry, and many other items. This is how they made their living. Today it is impossible. For more than 700 years there have been Croats in Janjevo. Slowly they are returning to Croatian. All the Roma and Albanians are Mussulmen here. There are no Roma Catholic in Kosovo. The Roma in Janjevo do not think Kosovo will return to normal for at least twenty years.


REPORT NUMBER: 23

Date: 5 June 2000

Location: Bostane (Novo Birdo). 6 houses of mixed Roma (52 people of Arlij, Gurbeti, Ashkalij, Kovachi castes) As far back as they can remember, their ancestors have always lived in Bostane.

Informant(s): Qazim Jashari, head of a local family. The community has no president, no official leader.

Food: Ration card for a family of three (Jashari Fata) is from IRC (International Rescue Committee) dated 26-8-1999. This year they have received:

2 Feb 2000- 6 cans of beef, 30 kilos flour, 2.8 kilos rice, 900 grams beans, 3 liters oil, 750 grams sugar, 300 grams salt.

10 Mar 2000- 1 jacket, 1 pair of shoes

10 Apr 2000- 2 cans of beef, 27 kilos flour, 2 liters oil, 450 grams salt

13 May 2000- 1 tin of chicken paste, 1 shampoo, 2 tubes of toothpaste, 6 bars of soap

They have now been told that there will be no more aid.

Hygiene: See above. They have received nothing else.

Security: Security is bad. USA KFOR is in charge but they are seldom here and patrols only last a few minutes. The Roma here are afraid to go on the road, they are often threatened by Albanians.

Medical Aid: Every fifteen days they are visited by a doctor from Medicine du Monde, but he never has the medicine they need. One man needs "Leponex" but the doctor said it was not available. There is no car in the village, no taxi, no vehicle to take them to hospital in an emergency.

Clothes & Shoes: See above what they have received. They have very few clothes, most of the children have no shoes.

Education: The children go to a Serb school in Bostane. They have no problems. USA KFOR does supply the school with wood for heating and other supplies, but nothing for the homes.

Shopping: They have a place to shop, but they have no money to buy anything.


Jobs: Nobody has a job. The informant was working in a mine in Novo Birdo since 1978. Last year during the bombing the mine was closed. It has never reopened.

Transportation: Serbian buses Nis with KFOR escort pick them up to go to Grachanica and Bujanovac to visit relatives and see friends.

Communications: They have no telephone in their community.

Other Problems: The biggest problem the Romani community has is security. They are afraid to go anywhere outside their own yards. Albanians on the nearby highway often stop to threaten them. These Roma are afraid to go more than a few yards from their own homes. Their ancestors were brought here hundreds of years ago to work in the local mines. Now they feel like foreigners in another land. Their next biggest problem is food. They have less food than any Romani community I have visited. They need blankets and clothes. IRC has been derelict in their duty to these families. IRC brings everything the Serbs in this community need, but give only what is left over to the Roma. The informant would like to go back in the mines to work. His health suffered in the mines but he just wants a job, any job to get money for his family.


REPORT NUMBER: 24

Date: 5 June 2000

Location: Grachanica (Pristina). Before the war there were about 300 Romani houses; now there are about 50 houses with three castes: Arlija, Kovachi, and Gurbeti.

Informant(s): Shashivar Salijivq, president of the Romani community in Grachanica.

Food: His ration card for a family of six (aid agency not mentioned) shows these deliveries for the year 2000:

14 Jan- 5 kilos potatoes, 2 kilos onion, 2 liters milk, 1 kilo yogurt, 2 kilos of oranges, 1 cubic meter of wood, several packages of seeds for planting: cabbage, onion, peppers, 60 kilos flour.

5 Feb- 5 kilos rice, 5 liters oil, 1 kilo salt.

12 Feb- 4 kilos potatoes, 2 kilos onion, 3 liters milk, 1 liter yogurt, 1 kilo of oranges, 72 kilos flour, 6 kilos rice, 12 kilos beans, 6 liter oil, 180 grams sugar.

10 Mar- 17 kilos potatoes, 72 kilos flour, 6 kilos rice, 12 kilos beans, 6 liters oil, 1.8 kilos sugar, 1.2 kilos salt.

They have received no more food aid.

Hygiene: They have never received any soap or other hygiene products.

Security: The Swedish KFOR control this area. It is very weak. The Albanians threaten them at night when the Swedes reduce their forces.

Medical Aid: They have a local hospital with Serb doctors. They have 24-hour medical coverage but not enough medicine.

Clothes & Shoes: No problems.

Education: All the children go to school from the age of seven until seventeen or eighteen. They go to a Serb school and have no problems.

Shopping: There are no problems in this town. They can not go anywhere else, no other village, to shop, but in this town they have no problems shopping.

Jobs: The informant works in the local clinic as a security guard. He has been working there for ten years. He is the only Rom in the town who has a job. Before the war everybody was working either in the mines, in a factory or in the hospital in Pristina. Everyone had a job, but now no one has a job. The Albanians have taken all the jobs, or wont let anyone return to their old job.

Transportation: UNHCR buses with a KFOR escort provide transportation to several villages where they can visit relatives.

Communications: They have a telephone with which they can call anywhere in Kosovo or abroad. There are about 20 telephones in this Romani community.

Other Problems: Their biggest problem for the community in general is food. Most families do not receive enough food aid. They also need wood to cook and for heating in the winter. Each house needs about 2 cubic meters of wood for the winter. These are their two most important needs.

Observations: During the NATO bombing, there was a camp here only for Roma, mainly from Pristina. There was an underground cellar in this camp to protect the people from bombing. The people were there for three months. Some could come and go but others were forced to remain behind the barbed wire because they were considered Albanian collaborators.

About 10 or 15 families have returned from Serbia. Their homes were not burned. Only one house in the entire town was burned. They are happy that they have come back. They are only afraid that Albanians sometimes stop on the highway to threaten them.

The informant says that KFOR is only here for the Albanians. If food aid is stopped he feels most people will leave. If aid continues more Roma will come back. Food and jobs are needed to keep the people here.


REPORT NUMBER: 25

Date: 5 June 2000

Location: Gjilan

Informant(s): Tefik Agushi, president of the Romani community in Gjilan. Three weeks after the NATO bombing there were still 6,000 Arlija Roma and 200 Serb Roma in Gjilan, but today there are only 350 Arlija and no Serb Roma. Most of the Roma have gone to Macedonia, Serbia, Germany and Czech Republic, according to the president.

Food: Food aid is distributed once a month by CARE. They are cutting food aid to those who no longer are deemed to need it, but these are mainly Albanian families. Present at our meeting was the monitor for CARE (a Romni from Prizren by the name of Shprese) who believed that no food aid would be cut or stopped to Roma in Gjilan. She said that the following aid was given each month to Roma:

12 kilos flour, 2 kilos beans, 1 liter oil, 400 grams of canned beef, 300 grams sugar, 200 grams salt. Sometimes 1 kilo of rice is also given.

Hygiene: The president said they had never received any soap, shampoo, detergent or toothpaste. They are in desperate need for these items, but no aid agency has come forth to offer such products.

Security: USA KFOR provides the security for Gjilan but it is not good according to the president or the CARE monitor. She said that no one in Gjilan knows she is a Romni since she comes from Prizren and can pass for white. The local Albanians tell her to poison the Roma when she hands out food rations. She and the president both said it was not safe for Roma to return to Gjilan. She knows many Roma who have returned to Prizren from Macedonia. Most have been beaten by Albanians. She fears the same thing, or worse, would happen to any Roma returning to Gjilan. Ferizaj and Prizren are supposed to be the safest places for Roma today in Kosovo, but she estimates that only 50% of them are safe in those two cities. "No place is safe in Kosovo for Roma," she said.

Medical Aid: They can not go to the local hospital, but they are visited by an aid agency doctor about once a week. However, he seldom has any medicine for them.

Clothes & Shoes: They don't have enough.

Education: Most of the Romani children in Gjilan go to school (a Serb school), but there are still Romani neighborhoods surrounded by violent Albanians so those Romani children do not go to school; they are afraid to walk through the Albanian neighborhoods and USA KFOR refuses to provide an escort.


Shopping: They find it difficult to go anywhere in the city. A few local shops will sell to a Rom who has a white face, but usually no one has any money to buy anything.

Jobs: There are four Roma who have jobs in Gjilan. One woman who cleans the warehouse for CARE, the CARE monitor, and two Romani blacksmiths who work for KFOR. Before the war, the Romani community had businessmen, doctors, college professors, many school teachers, actors, journalists, poets, writers, all Roma. The Roma also had their own newspaper, radio and TV programs. Many men worked for 30 years in the mines or at factories. Almost everyone had a job. But today only four Roma have a job in Gjilan. The Albanians wont let any Roma walk the streets, let alone return to work.

Transportation: USA KFOR provides no escort for Roma for any reason.

Communications: No Romani household has a telephone in Gjilan. During the winter, a French organization came every two months to let any Rom make a two minute telephone call to relatives anywhere in the world. But this service has now stopped.

Other Problems: The president says their biggest problem is security. It is not safe to walk the streets, to travel to other villages, to look for work. He says that if the Roma were free to walk the streets they would need no humanitarian aid. They could all find jobs. But despite USA KFOR patrolling the streets, it is not safe for Roma to be outside of their homes. The president's number one wish is to be "free." The next need is to rebuild the burned down homes and then remove the Albanians from the other Romani homes. Only then can refugees return. So far not one refugee has return to Gjilan since the war ended last June. "They all want to come home," the president declared. "I want to prepare homes for them to return, but at the moment it is impossible. Gjilan is worse than Mitrovice for the Roma."

The Roma in Gjilan have suffered five bomb attacks by Albanians since the end of the war. The last one was two weeks ago. On April 28th a Romni mother of eight was killed by an Albanian hand grenade when she went into the street to fetch water from a faucet. She was actually alive when the American troops evacuated her to University hospital in Pristina. She died there. Her body was not returned to her family for burial.

The Roma in Gjilan have also suffered many beatings by the Albanians. The last one was a week ago when an old woman was beaten so badly she needed stitches around her eyes.

Albanians frequently throw stones through Romani windows. The UN police never come to stop it. Last night the president called the UN police after a stone attack. They never came. When an American army patrol came into the neighborhood they also called the UN police and waited 45 minutes for them, but the police never showed up. The UN police are not interested in helping the Roma, only the Albanians, the president said.

The Roma are very upset with USA KFOR because the American soldiers saw the Albanians burn all the Romani homes and only stood by and watched it happen. The Americans saw the Albanians looting the houses before they burned them. A Rom who speaks English tried to get the Americans to intervene. They just ignored him because he was a Gypsy.

UNHCR wants to bring the Gjilani Romani refugees back to Kosovo, but the local president says it is not safe to do so. The streets are not safe for Roma, plus they have no homes to return to. About 140 Romani homes were burned after the war. Albanians now live in 350 Romani homes that weren't burned.

The president has asked UNHCR to take him to the refugee camps in Macedonia to visit the Roma from Gjilan. He wants to talk to them about conditions in Gjilan, to let them know what is happening. He asked UNHCR over a month ago but has never received a reply.

He has heard that UNHCR are threatening to put the refugees in tents again if they don't agree to return to Kosovo. The president is upset that President Clinton visited the Albanian refugees in Macedonia but no one is visiting the Romani refugees. The entire international community has turned their backs on the Roma refugees, according to the Gjilani president.

He said that he was very critical of those who do not want to help his people, but he is also very grateful to many people and organizations who have helped. He specifically wanted to mention Mrs. Pernille, a Danish woman, who has helped them a great deal. Also CARITAS and ACT. The Netherlands Red Cross has also set up a community kitchen to give most Roma one hot meal a day. ""If they didn't exist, we wouldn't exist," he said. "They are helping us, that is the reason we are still here in Kosovo."

OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) refuses to hire Roma in Gjilan. The CARE monitor speaks English but can not get a job with OSCE. OSCE told her they hire only people who can speak perfect English although she has met several Albanians and Serbs who work for OSCE but speak no English.

Observations: The president left me in no doubt that if humanitarian aid in Gjilan is cut back or stopped, the remaining Roma will leave. "We want to stay," he said. "If we leave then the Albanians will burn our homes too, and we will never have what we had before."


REPORT NUMBER: 29

Date: 6 June 2000

Location: Podujevo, Ashkalij community. Today there are about 80 Ashkalij houses and about 800 to 1,000 Ashkalij people in Podujevo. There are no Roma. Before the war there were a few Roma but today they have all gone. The Ashkalij in Podujevo have founded the first Ashkalij organization in Kosovo. Their purpose is to check on every Ashkalij community today in Kosovo and see how they can help them. They have an office, a computer, a small car, but no telephone, and very little money for gasoline. A total of 12,473 Ashkalij are cooperating with them in the communities of Pristina, Kosovo Polje, Medvec, Lipjan, Dubrava, Ferizaj, Shtime, and the old Krushevac camp now in Plemetina. The name of their organization is "Shpresa Demokratike." In English it means, "Democratic Hope."

Informant(s): Isuf Bajrami, vice president, Agim Husani, president.

Food: The Ashkalij in Podujevo receive food aid from Mother Teresa Society. The president said they do not receive enough food. Per person per month they receive: 7 kilos flour, 1 kilo beans, ½ liter oil, 1.2 kilos rice, 100 grams sugar, 100 grams salt. This is not enough to live on.

Hygiene: For six months they haven't received any hygiene products.

Security: English and Scottish KFOR control the Podujevo. They cooperate very well with them. In this municipality they have no problems with Albanians. They have had no bomb attacks, no house burnings. The only houses burned were fifteen during the war by the Serbs who killed 3 Ashkalij and kidnaped another.

Medical Aid: They have everything they need in this area. They are not turned away from hospitals, but they need to pay. This is impossible for some people. Donations are collected from the better off to give to the poor but there is never enough money to buy medicine. Several people have died from not being able to pay. IMC (International Medical Corps) came twice to hold a meeting with them but they only gave them combs for their hair, no medical aid. No international aid agency has given them medical help.

Clothes & Shoes: No one has given them clothes and shoes. Many, many families are desperate for these items.

Education: The children go to an Albanian school. They have no problems. They get the same education as the Albanians, but the president said the standard is not as high as before the war.

Shopping: There are no problems. They can go into any shop. Their only problem is lack of money to buy groceries.


Jobs: Only 2% of the Ashkalij in Podujevo have jobs. 98% are unemployed. This is their biggest problem. Without a job, they cant live. All of the young people are out of work. Most have had a good education but there are no jobs. Before the war, most had a job in a factory but most factories are now closed. Hopefully some of the factories will reopen and the Ashkalij can get jobs again. Their new organization has made employment their top priority. They hope to create jobs by making special projects. But so far they have found no financing for their projects.

Transportation: They have only one little car for them to visit all the Gypsy communities to expand their organization. They don't have enough money to buy gasoline. UNHCR provides no bus service. They know it is dangerous for a dark-skinned person to go on the highway, but as soon as they have money for gasoline, the president plans to drive to every Ashkalij community once a month to keep in contact with them and to organize them.

Communications: They do not have a telephone but some people in the neighborhood have mobile telephones. An Export-Import firm next door to the Ashkalij office has offered to let them use their fax. It is: 038/70-700.

Other Problems: Their biggest problem is they have no jobs. They also want to rebuild the 15 homes burned by the Serbs. They also need clothes and shoes for the kids going to school. More food is also desperately needed. Many people have scurvy. People are getting sick mentally because they can not leave Podujevo. No one can travel on the highways, or go to other communities for fear of being attacked. They can not seek jobs in the rest of Kosovo because there is no freedom for dark-skinned people to travel. The small Ashkalij villages around them do not have the same good cooperation with Albanians. Those villages suffer attacks and beatings by Albanians. Many Ashkalij have left these villages. No one wants to return.

Observations: When I pointed out that the Ashkalij of Podujevo were not receiving the minimum 12 kilos of flour per person per month (only 7), and suggested I complain on their behalf to the World Food Program who allots food to the cooperating agencies such as Mother Theresa, the president was very adamant that I not do so. He doesn't want any problems with Mother Teresa (i.e. KLA/Albanians). He rather see his people get only half the food due them than upset MTS. He appeared to be very afraid of them.

The war destroyed the Ashkalij life and hopes in Podujevo. No one left their town during or after the war, but they have very little to keep them here. The president believes that if food, medicine and jobs are not found soon, his people will go abroad to join relatives. In fact, he will recommend to all Ashkalij in their new organization to emigrate. Most Ashkalij have relatives in Germany. He would suggest they all go there.


REPORT NUMBER: 30

Date: 7 June 2000

Location: Preoce and Plemetina

Donation of Medical Supplies: Since arriving in Kosovo, I have donated all the medical supplies to two clinics. The two biggest boxes I gave to Preoce, and the three other boxes to Plemetina. With the Serb president and Roma president of each village present, I handed over the medicine to the Serb doctors in each clinic. Everyone was very grateful and appreciated receiving this aid from Society for Threatened People.

The medical staff in each clinic looks after 15 villages, so the medicine donated by STP will reach 30 communities. In each clinic I saw that Roma, Ashkalij and Egyptians were being well treated along with Serbs.

Each clinic is headed by young, enthusiastic, dedicated, over-worked Serb doctors. The doctor in charge at Plemetina told us they have attended almost 10,000 emergency cases since the war. Unfortunately, many old people have died from trauma because of the war. Young children have also suffered considerably from trauma caused by the NATO bombing. Every time there is a thunderstorm, the children think they are being bombed again, especially the Gypsy children whose homes were near military installations or in abandoned army barracks.

If future medical supplies are donated to them, the Preoce doctor would like antibiotics for children, anti-hypertension drugs, and anti-rheumatism drugs.

The doctor in Plemetina needs a flashlight to see into ears, syringes, apparatus to take blood pressure, white doctors/nurses jackets, medical bag, ambo-kiss machine, urinary catheter, several bottles of Mannitolo 18%, and a dentist chair.

I said I would try to bring something out every time I came (hopefully once every three or four months).

Most minorities in Kosovo are getting some food, but most are getting no medicine. Serb doctors are willing to see anyone, but they have very few medicines with which to treat people. As you can see from the above list, they need the most basic things.


Donation of Clothes: I gave all the clothes I brought from STP to the Romani communities of Preoce and Plemetina. Only the poorest Gypsy families in these two communities were given these clothes. Both communities have recently suffered bomb attacks from Albanians so with these donations I tried to show solidarity from the West with them. Since all KFOR patrols always have an Albanian interpreter dressed in military fatigues with them, the Serbs and Gypsies feel that KFOR and the KLA are an integrated force. Bomb attacks against Serbs and Roma today are felt to be a KFOR/KLA attack against them. Yesterday in the nearby town of Grachanica (where we interviewed two days ago and where I am giving a radio interview on Saturday), two Albanians threw several hand grenades into the open-air market. Five Serb shoppers were seriously injured. When local Serbs drew out guns and ran after the two Albanian terrorists, English and Italian KFOR soldiers opened fire on the Serbs, seriously wounding seven. Preoce, where we continue to sleep every night, is only 4 kilometers from Grachanica. So it is important for me to donate these items (clothes and medicine) locally, to show that not every Westerner is against them.