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Speech by Krista Armanzi

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 in Albania.

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 in Kosovo.

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 following:

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 Albania.

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 self worth.

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.

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