Blace Refugee Camp in Kacanik (Kosovo-Macedonia border)
May 27, 1999 "I do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a
whole people." - Edmund Burke, 1775
How will all of the Serbs who have mistreated you be punished?
Are you still safe in Kosovo or will the Serbs continue
to threaten you? How, as the quote said, can an indictment
be drawn up against a whole people, the Serbs? I am sure
these questions and many more are running through your
minds. You may be pondering your survival options for
the time when the refugee camps close and the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is gone. I, too,
would be frightened to live unprotected in a country that
does not want me to live in it. That is why, as an employee
of the UNHCR, I have come to propose that, with the help
of the UNHCR, you relocate to Albania when this ordeal
is settled. The UNHCR is here to aid all of the ethnic
Albanian refugees who are being persecuted because they
are Muslim. There is a better life out there for each
and every one of you and we in the UNHCR believe your
best chance to live without fear of discrimination is
I was chosen to represent the UNHCR at Blace Camp for many
reasons. I lived in Albania and was relocated to the
UNHCR station in Urosevac, which is about 25 kilometers
northwest of here. I can guarantee, from own experience,
that the conditions in Albania are much better than those
I also have an emotional attachment to this tribulation
that is very close to my heart. A close family friend,
Zini Teuta, moved his family to Kosovo from Albania in
1983 in order to escape the harsh ways of Albanian dictator
Enver Hoxha. Our families met in the Masjid Ush Shura
mosque in Tirana when I was very young. Both of our families
were strict Muslims and became very good friends. Recently,
I heard the sad news from his wife, who has now moved
back to Albania, that this man was forced to watch his
16 year-old daughter, Besmira Teuta, brutally raped by
a young Serb. Then, he was used by a Serb as a human shield
in an attack by the Albanian rebels.
The negative outcome of this occurrence was drastic: Zini
died shortly after being shot in the heart. The Serb
cold-heartedly left Zini in the alley to die a sad and
lonely death. The mother has yet to hear from her daughter,
Besmira. The Serb took Besmira away after she was raped,
and she has not been heard from since. This happened
last year in 1998. I requested that I be placed in an
UNHCR office in Kosovo so I could help this catastrophic
situation. I do not want this madness to go on any longer.
I am a devote Muslim. That is another reason this issue
is so close to my heart. You are being persecuted for
your religion. You should all be proud that you are Muslim
and follow Allah. In Albania, 70% of the population (about
2,310,000 Albanians) is Muslim. You do not have to be
afraid of being victimized due to your religion because
a large majority of Albania has the same convictions as
you. Albania can be used as your safe haven. You will
acquire the basic human rights you were so viciously stripped
of in Kosovo and enjoy religious freedom. There are other
good qualities waiting for you in Albania, such as the
In the past year, Albania has achieved the largest growth
of any Eastern European country. The primary areas of
growth in Albania’s economy have come from agriculture,
private services, and construction. The agriculture sector
has risen 7%, construction is up 11% and other services
have really advanced with a 26% increase. These fields
are very promising in this small country. If any of you
are capable in these fields, I strongly recommend an appeal
to be relocated to Albania.
On the negative side, unfortunately, the industrial sector
in Albania has fallen 74% since 1990. This sector contributed
37% to the national GDP in 1990, but only 13% last year.
This drop in industrial output has caused Albania’s overall
GDP to decline by 22% from its 1990 level.
The future, despite the past poor industrial output, does
hold definite promise. The stability of the country relies
on the concreteness of its economy. Therefore, I would
like to emphasize what I have already said. Albania’s
growth last year was the largest in Eastern Europe. Many
economic sectors increased significantly. The employment
that these sectors generate will, over time, begin to
compensate for the unemployment caused by the industrial
downturn of past years. Eventually, employment in the
industrial sector will increase and that sector will prosper.
This is very good news for the future of both you and
I am not going to lie to you and tell you that life in
Albania will be easy. Life will be challenging, but you
are going to a country that wants and needs you. I can
guarantee that when you do find your niche in Albania,
you will be proud. You will have a feeling of accomplishment
and that is what all of you need right now- a sense of
You will not be alone as you move to Albania. The UNHCR
is here to help and will support you the whole way. Our
annual budget is now up to more than $1 billion dollars.
Presently, the budget is split into two parts: one part
goes towards general programs supporting basic operations
such as refugee assistance and protection and the rest
is for emergencies and non-refugee related programs.
As you can see, we have the funds to support you as you
get started in your new lives in Albania.
Albania continues to receive additional funds from other
sources to help accommodate the incoming Kosovo refugees.
The World Bank, for example, has approved two grants totaling
US$2 million to help relieve the stress of the refugees.
For instance, money is being spent for expanding schools,
building health centers, and improving the water supply.
This increased funding should help Albanians and you,
future citizens of Albania, have a better life. There
are many more funds being invested into the success of
Albania. Soon, Albania will be a thriving country. With
your help, this goal will be achieved in the near future.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is anxious
to reposition healthy, ambitious refugees to Albania.
Albania needs hard-working citizens to help stabilize
it. If you are willing to work hard to ensure a successful
future for yourself, apply to the UNHCR to be moved to
Albania as soon as it is safe.
Albania wants and severely needs its children back. We can make
this a strong and prosperous country with your help.
Without it, Albania will fade away. So I urge you to please
ask the UNHCR for aid in order to relocate to Albania.
You are our last hope. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is working
as hard as possible along with the World Bank We are
exhausting all available funds. The United Nations role
in this situation was slow to start, but is now moving
rapidly and effectively to fix this predicament. I plead
that you will request a placement to Albania. I can assure
you that you will be safe and successful.