Conflict in Macedonia Updated Jun 2001

Report
from Catholic Relief Services
Published on 04 Jun 2001
Peace is elusive in Macedonia. "It's a bit tense here. We can hear shelling outside the office and much of the staff can hear it from their homes," said Tom Price, Catholic Relief Services Regional Communications Officer for Europe. As for the people of Macedonia, "Homes that stood in the way of the fighting have been destroyed or badly damaged," said Price.
When there is a lull in the fighting, people gather their families and whatever they can carry and head for what they hope is safety in Kosovo. Many are traveling on foot for 24 hours or more across 8,000-foot mountains.Click on the virtual tour to learn more.Once there, these extended families of aunts, uncles and children are met by Catholic Relief Services and then placed with host families. Sometimes there are as many as twenty people in one house. The fighting has forced some 20,000 Macedonians out of their homes and into Kosovo, and others are trapped in villages in Macedonia with no way for aid workers to reach them.

Catholic Relief Services Responds

CRS Distributions in Prizren, Kosovo (as of the end of May)

  • 1,336 liters of milk
  • 2,110 liters of oil
  • Hygiene kits 876
  • 990 3-day ration packs
  • 2,332 liters of water
  • 1,978 mattresses
  • 1,948 7-day ration packs
  • 2,673 hygiene kits
  • 400 bags diaper
  • 3,440 blankets
  • As needed kitchen sets
  • As needed stoves
Sadly, little has changed in Macedonia over the last few months. Catholic Relief Services continues to help the refugee families as much as possible by providing necessities and by placing them with host families. Amazingly, Kosovar families are not complaining about the large numbers of people in their homes. Their concern is providing for them and their own families during this difficult and dangerous time. As many of the host families are already struggling to make ends meet, Catholic Relief Services is providing both the refugees and the families with daily food rations and non-food household items, and is prepared to provide emergency shelter for refugees if host families are unavailable. The Agency is also supporting local partner, El Hilal's distributions of food and other emergency items to some 1,250 people in the Tetovo area of Macedonia.

In addition to meeting the needs of the refugees, Catholic Relief Services has begun distributing feed for horses, sheep and cows in 10 villages in the Prizren and Dragash areas. Many refugees brought livestock with them when they fled Macedonia. One father and son alone brought 150 sheep into Kosovo. As a main source of economic livelihood, the animals are precious cargo and it's necessary for the families that they too survive this ordeal.

"CRS is supporting the message of peace and tolerance among all ethnicities in Macedonia."

The Agency's commitment doesn't end with food and necessities' distributions. Staff in Kosovo and Macedonia are deeply concerned with promoting peace in this war-torn country. To demonstrate their commitment, Agency staff in Macedonia initiated the Blue Ribbons-for-Peace campaign in Skopje. "CRS is supporting the message of peace and tolerance among all ethnicities in Macedonia," said Price.

Background

Just two years after the world watched the region around Yugoslavia's province of Kosovo deteriorate, tensions rose again. This time the neighboring country of Macedonia suffered from fighting that forced tens-of-thousands of refugees to flee to Kosovo for safety. The Macedonian government tried to pacify aggressive ethnic Albanian militants operating in the areas surrounding Tetovo, Macedonia, a predominantly Albanian town close to the border with Kosovo. Although the situation has calmed, few refugees have returned to Macedonia.

Copyright=A92001 CRS