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Daily press briefing of the Serb National Council of Kosovo and Metohija
Gracanica, August 21, 2000
During this meeting a detailed analysis was conducted of the position of our people in these areas which will be made public after professional preparation of all gathered data. The delegation stayed in Orahovac, Velika Hoca, visited the destroyed monastery of Zociste, then Prizren, the monastery of Holy Archangels and Sredacka Zupa.
In today’s Press Briefing we present some of the details from the gathered material, especially data on the current number of Serbs in these areas:
Immediately prior to the war, there 8,467 Serbs or approximately 2,000 Serb households in Prizren. After the war and the arrival of KFOR, the great majority of the residents of the ancient capitol of the Emperor Dusan were forced to leave the city. Currently in Prizren there are 117 Serbs, of whom 27 live in the Orthodox seminary of St. Cyril and Methodius, 81 in various parts of the city, completely isolated in their houses and apartments, and seven in the “R. Sadiku” settlement, a total of 52 households (not counting those housed in the seminary) or 33 men, 69 women and 7 children. Orthodox priests have remained in Prizren during the entire time, especially after the end of the war, who are taking care of the people and fighting for their interests. These are Father Ilija Smigic, Father Aleksandar Naspalic and Father Miron Kosac, who is at the same time the acting director of the seminary.
In Sredacka Zupa there are currently 122 Serbs in the following villages (numbers in parentheses give pre- and post-war numbers of Serbs residing in each village): Musnikovo (112/66); Bogosevce (49/6); Gornje Selo (52/1); Lokvice (19/4); Drajcici (130/33); Planjane (15/9); Vrbicane (?/3). Looking only at the total number of Serbs remaining, currently residing in Sredacka Zupa there are 36 men and 52 women. In the village of Vrbicane there is also one child, the last remaining in Sredacka Zupa. Recently a visit was organized by the SNC and the UN Joint Committee on Returns for 63 displaced Serbs to the village of Musnikovo after which at least one person expressed the desire to return to his home. Orthodox priests of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren of Prizren as well as the five monks at the monastery of Holy Archangels between Prizren and Sredacka Zupa are in constant contact with the people.
ORAHOVAC - VELIKA HOCA:
The situation in Orahovac and Velika Hoca remains difficult. In Orahovac, according to the SNC team’s findings, of the 2,500 Serbs who resided in the city itself prior to the war, 541 persons of Serb nationality, i.e., 190 households (190 men, 220 women, 130 children) remain. The Serbs live in the so-called Serb quarter in the upper part of the city near the Orthodox church where Archmonk Stefan Milenkovic and Monk Antonije serve and care for the people, organize humanitarian aid and hold religious instruction for the children. Dr. Subaric-Georgieva learned from local physician Dr. Dostana Grkovic that 70 Serbs suffer from chronic illnesses and receive regular medical care. These are primarily elderly people. The life of the Serbs in the city is extremely difficult because there is no freedom of movement outside the Serb quarter, there are no jobs available and no prospects for normal life. The existence of humanitarian convoys to the north of the Province and central Serbia m! ake life much more bearable but at the same time encourage more people to permanently leave Orahovac.
Currently living in Velika Hoca there are 685 Serbs (264 men, 234 women and 187 children). Before the war this ancient Serb town with its 11 medieval churches had a population of 1,600 Serbs. Life in the town itself appears to be going normally even though more than a year of complete isolation and pressure by extremist Albanians is motivating more and more young people to leave the place where they were born. There is a school in the town which is also attended by children from Orahovac, who arrive every day with a German KFOR escort. On the basis of the testimony of the director of the local medical clinic, Dr. Ljubomir Filipovic, there are 60 people with chronic illnesses who require regular medical care. Also remaining in the town during the war and in the post-war period is Priest Milenko Dragicevic with his family, who is taking care of the people in this area. Unfortunately, the Serbs from the surrounding villages of Zociste, Retimlje and Operusa no longer in their hous! es ever since the war when some of them were killed, others expelled by the KLA. All Serbian churches, including the monastery in Zociste, have been leveled with the ground with the exception of the churches in Velika Hoca and Orahovac.
The complete material gathered by Father Panic and Dr. Subaric-Georgieva includes a series of photographs and videotapes.
Today, August 21, Randjel Nojkic and Dragan Velic again left for Orahovac in order to work with local members of the board of the SNC and Orthodox priests on finding ways to improve the position of the Serbs in this region.
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