Kosovo Crisis


The youth of Kosovar do not want to fight. They prefer to work in the refugee camps. This was the comment made by Mario Marazziti, who is working on the border between Albania and Kosovo, coordinating the help of volunteers from the Saint Egidio Community.
    The Catholic Community of Saint Egidio has 42 Italian and Albanian doctors and nurses working in the area, and has organized a network of 14 centers in the north of Albania, especially in Kukes and Fierze. On April 9, Marazziti denounced the police for dismantling the Rusteni center, Kukes, where the volunteers of the Community had given shelter to 1,400 people, including 700 children. The refugees were given food, medical care and education for the children. All these refugees were transferred to the center in Albania; thousands of people who were waiting in tents on the side of the road were left unattended.
    Marazziti told the Vatican agency 'Fides,' that the refugees do not want to go to countries which have offered them entry. "They want to stay in Kukes because they hope to return to their homes." For them, the hope offered by the border is more important than a momentary roof.
    "I have seen several agents come through the camps in the hopes of recruiting youth for the guerrilla, but they have not met with much success. Many of the youths prefer to work in humanitarian service. We have the support of many doctors and nurses from Kosovo. The Saint Egidio volunteers are working in another camp that has emerged spontaneously. It is known as the "Potato Deposit," where 10,000 persons are living. We are constructing showers and sanitary facilities. We have worked on the supply of clean water and a service for the removal of refuse. Many of the young people, who do not want to fight, work with us to make the camps more livable. They dispose of refuse and teach the smaller children. They make an effort to humanize the camps and start living again," Marazziti said.
    "The refugees are increasing. The idea of the great powers to evacuate Kukes at the rate of 17,000 refugees a day, sending them to other zones of Abania, has remained just a project. They are only able to evacuate between four and five thousand persons a day, but the border has been re-opened, and the number of those arriving is equal to that of those leaving. Albanian families in Kukes are sheltering between 25,000 and 30,000 refugees and close to 40,000 are in the camps which have sprung up spontaneously."

9:38am 15/4/99 / Zenit


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