ATLANTA (January 28, 2000) -- On the penultimate day of a four-day fact-finding tour of the war-ravaged Yugoslav province of Kosovo, CARE USA President Peter D. Bell and CARE International Secretary General Guy Tousignant met with villagers in the badly shelled village of Doberdelan, south of the Kosovar capital, Pristina.
"Having heard the stories of suffering and witnessed the fortitude of families such as the ones we visited in Doberdelan, I have gained some understanding of what people throughout Kosovo have been through," said Bell. "I am moved by their resolve to endure, and to rebuild their lives."
At the height of the conflict, Doberdelan villagers, including the elderly and the very young, were forced to abandon their homes, treasured possessions and livestock, and flee to the safety of refugee camps in neighboring Albania.
Walking through the village, Bell and Tousignant met with Shaban Cikaci, his wife Zarife, and their five children. The family lives with Cikaci's 90-year-old grandfather in one room of their now bomb-damaged home. It is a tight squeeze and some of the children still live in an adjoining tent.
"We have to rebuild," Cikaci told the CARE leaders. "But, here in Doberdelan, we are luckier than most. CARE's land mine teams checked the village for explosives. After they searched the entire area, we were all pleased to discover there were no landmines or explosives around here."
In Doberdelan, nearly all the homes have been either bombed or burned -- more than two-thirds are beyond repair. "I was impressed by the tremendous bond that the Kosovars have to their homes and their villages -- it's incredibly powerful," said Bell. "That commitment -- which fuels the energy with which people are rebuilding their lives -- makes CARE's work here less difficult."
To protect thousands of people from the now minus-zero temperatures, CARE has helped to provide winter shelter and supplies in the form of timber, polythene sheeting, wood-burning stoves, warm clothes and regular deliveries of fresh food. According to Bell, "We have to look to the future. And the challenge now is to gradually move away from providing emergency relief and to work on the long-term rehabilitation of this village -- and so many others like it -- across the region."
CARE is one of the world's largest private international relief and development organizations, with projects in more than 60 countries. CARE has worked in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia since 1993, assisting displaced Serb refugees from Bosnia, and in Kosovo since 1998, implementing shelter repair, food distribution and other relief projects. CARE is now working in the Ferizaj (Urosevac), Lipljan and Mitrovica areas with a comprehensive emergency program including food distribution, shelter provision and repair, agricultural rehabilitation, community health, mine-awareness training and demining.