This page contains the email sent by Bobbie Lord, an American who is managing the Quatrom refugee camp for Relief International in Albania. She arrived there on 6 May 1999, and departed on 7 July 1999 (when the refugees were repatriated).
In addition to the messages below, you can check out a slide presentation she put together: Qatrom Slides. Enjoy!
Date: Thu, 06 May 1999 20:31:59 +0200
Just a quickie to let you know I arrived safely in Tirana. I will be leaving for Korce in the morning. Another 6,000 refugees are scheduled to arrive today or tomorrow and will probably come to the camp in Korce. Other camps are being built in the area and RI would like to manage at least one of them from a coordination standpoint. Apparently the santitation in this camp leave something to be desired. I will find out tomorrow.
I repacked my bags last night which was a good thing as the luggage did not arrive - I do have the essentials with me however so I should be okay until it arrives. (the pink suitcase arrived, if you can believe. It was the only bag I had that wasn't cruical - that figures, must have been the color)
The countryside here is beautiful - Tirana is not a pretty city. Korce is supposed to be lovely and much 'fresher' than Tirana.
I have quite a challenge ahead of me. I am excited and ready to go.
I met Max in Bologna and he is a delightful young man - so glad it
worked out that way.
Date: Fri, 07 May 1999 19:35:31 +0200
In Tirana it was quite hot but here it is very cold. I hope it will warm up soon. Tomorrow I will be in charge of distributing jerry cans and other supplies.
Rueters was at the camp today interviewing the staff and some of the
refugees. The Salvation Army is cooking the food until the gas burners
come. MMD (Spain) is the medical team. We really have our hands full as
another 6,000 are due to arrive any time. We are all trying to
Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 08:10:18 +020
[IFO is a refugee camp in Kenya where Bobbie worked in 1992]
Off to get some breakfast. More later. There are so many impressions
already, it is hard to filter them all.
Date: Sun, 09 May 1999 19:12:33 +0200
>What is the name of the camp (so I can monitor >news reports) and where is it? Can you check email from >there or do you have to go to Korce?
The name of the camp is Qatrom and it is SE of Korce maybe 8 km. We have to come back to the house in Korce to receive email as there are no phone lines at the camp. Whether or not there will be, remains to be seen.
>I checked the Miami Herald for news reports of your >trip, but there wasn't a story.
I was interviewed in the airport by a TV channel 6 and I think it was shown on channel 5 for the Palm Beaches. Jeri Butler wrote a nice article about me in the Palm Beach Post.
Rolf Swellingden(sp?), Reuters, wrote a story and part of it was read on the BBC this morning (9 May). He is waiting for a big surge of refugees which are at the Macedonian border to cross before he writes the whole thing. Today the BBC came and filmed the camp and interviewed staff and refugees. CNN was supposed to come, whether they did or not I am not sure, as I was busy with the distribution of jerry cans etc. The distribution went very smoothly. I met with all the community leaders and introduced myself and explained how things would work and it did. I had several teenagers helping me - we have approximately 10 teens who are helping as volunteers and wear badges. They were wonderfully helpful today.
One thing about so many people is the amount of trash that is thrown everywhere. So I started cleaning up the trash and got others to join me, soon we had several young boys and even some men helping. The camp was picked up in no time and I will get a team together to do this. W
We have two large tents designated as a community center and a school. There is an education director, who is not a teacher, but who is organizing the teaching of students.
We will be putting together a woman's program, health, safety etc. Right now a priority is pampers for the babies. We will need to establish a washing area and get cloth ones, as there is no means of taking care of the amount of trash that accumulates.
Three new camps are being built close to this camp and will be approximately 5,000 each. The Germans are building one of the camps, which RI will ,manage and two others being built by the French and the British. Who will manage those camps is yet to be determined, however, it makes much more sense to have RI do all three for consistency. Otherwise, there will be conflicts since apples and oranges do not mix. However, there are other NGO's that have just arrived and wish to manage a camp. Ours is running quite smoothly. The Germans built the camp, Oxfam donated the Water and sanitation equipment, the German Red cross installed it, The Salvation Army is managing the food, the Japanese donated the tents, MMD (Spain) is the medical, and RI are the camp managers - quite an international team effort. We are still expecting to have a big influx of refugees. UNHCR is trying to regulate how many can come at once for a smooth transition. We keep hearing 6,000 as they are on the border. However the camps do need to be built first - but it always seems that things are in a crisis situation. Storage is a big problem and theft is common. We had some things delivered the other day and begged to have the containers left, which fortunately for us they were. Other things are in tents and today 3 trunks arrived unannounced to deliver, sleeping bags, plastic sheeting, cooking kits and jerry cans. Everyone wants the exposure.
Give your girls big hugs for me. I am feeling so comfortable with all of these people. I feel like such a fish out of water at home at times. I am happy to be here doing this work - it makes my heart sing. There is a question as to my role right now, as Marcie Van Dyke has been managing the camp, and although I was hired to manage the camp, it is a sensitive issue as you can imagine, so I will wait to see if we get all the camps and then what will happen. Will keep you posted.
I love you,
Thanks for the Mother's Day wish.
NOTE: People might be interested in checking out the following story from Radio Free Europe which interviews some of the people in Qatrom on 5 May 1999 (the day before Bobbie arrived): RFE Story.
Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 20:36:37 +0200
Just thought I would let you know that I was interviewed by Fox TV, cable new network today and was told that it will be aired on the 7PM Eastern time news tonight, Monday, 10 May. The camp I am at is Qantrom near Korce, Albania. We are still waiting for the influx of 6,000 refugees and are told they will arrive any day from Macedonia. They still have not come and we are being contacted by the news daily - BBC, Reuters, ABC, NBC etc. I have promised I will contact them all as soon as we get the word. If it is "normal" procedure, they will just arrive without any warning at all. We are ready for them.
I am so delighted to be here - feeling alive and useful. This is a 7 day/week job with no breaks and long days, but it is stimulating as well as frustrating. There are 3 other camps being built - two in close proximity - I think Relief International will be managing one of the camps (the one the Germans will build) and whether or not we will manage the other camp being built by the French remains to be seem. Consistency is the key however. The British camp will be some 20 KM away.
The NATO force, with a British Major in charge arrived today at the camp site and set up tents, satellite communications and the whole nine yards, with helicopters coming and going. It is all very exciting and their function at the moment is to coordinate the building of the camps and insure safety etc. They plan to be here for only one month and then go back to "what they came here for". We were visited by the Danish military and they are waiting on the border of Macedonia to escort the refugees to our camp and the Greek camp which is about 40 km away. There is lots of activity and excitement. We seem to receive new supplies, generally unannounced and storage is a problem. The camp continues to be built with the finishing touches, such as fencing and water and santitation. All the tents are up and we are waiting for cookers so the refugees can cook for themselves as the Salvation Army is only here providing the food on a temporary basis.
An additional problem that is not being discussed openly and only referred to as "phase 3" is what to do with the refugees during winter, because it is clear that they cannot survive a winter here in tents. There are 2 NGO's (non-governmental organizations) who are here winterizing a couple of buildings.
I am having fun and am working with a delightful group of teenagers. Today we were distributing beds and it got so hectic and I was practically being mobbed. I told everyone to leave the area except for the community leaders and they refused so I terminated the distribution. The feedback I received from the interpreters was the community leaders thought I did the right thing and I got their stamp of approval. Sometimes you have to be tough. Things will go smoother tomorrw I guarantee.
Sending love to all,
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 20:04:11 +0200
I was interviewed again for TV by Reuters - guess I am coming up in the world, but a film star I will not be. I really don't like being interviewed as I get all tongue tied. Refugees from Macedonia arrived last night at 10PM and we were there registering them and getting them settled into tents until 2AM. Then an 8 AM meeting thiss morning with UNHCR and working until 6:30 tonight. Busy, busy. Then a 2 hour meeting today with the Prefect (local authorities), UNHCR, German Red Cross, Salvation Army, RI and representatives of the refugees committee to discuss complaints of the refugees. They want electricity in their tents and hot showers among other things. None of that is available. We will work with the committee
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 22:19:39 +0200
While I was distributing beds, one of the community leaders explained that the reason one man was alone was that his sons were taken by the KLA. I have also heard rumors that the KLA are taking the younger people from the camp. This is what you thought might happen. I really do not know how I can confirm it unless someone tells me directly and I am not sure that will happen. I do suspect that it is true.
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 22:19:43 +0200
At 05:16 PM 5/10/99 -0400, you wrote:
>Dear Ms. Lord, >My name is Michael Samuels and I am a reporter from the Stuart News, working >on a story about your work in Albania and your previous experience traveling >for humanitarian efforts. Please answer the following questions. Thank you >very much. > >Please spell your name so I have it correct.
Bobbie Lord is correct
hmmm, not sure I want this known - 59
>Where in Martin County/the Treasure Coast area do you normally live?
I live in Rocky Point area of Stuart. [Florida, USA]
>When did you move there and where did you live before that?
I moved to Stuart in April 1995 to be near my father before I went to Zambia. I returned to Stuart in 1997 when I finished my assignment in Zambia. I have lived in Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Montreal, Canada, Illinois, California, Colorado, Kenya, Zambia and Florida and will now Albania for approximately 6 months.
>Why do you go to the various places to help, compared to sending donations of money or food?
I really love field work and working directly with people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. I have been fortunate in my life and I want to contribute by giving back to those less fortunate. I feel it is important to give of oneself and one's time directly. I also donate money to various organizations that strive to lessen oppression and support humanitarian efforts as well as improving the environment. Many of my friends "lovingly" call me a 'do-gooder', at least, I hope it is lovingly.
>How did you get involved in Habitat for Humanity and traveling >internationally to help others?
My family has travelled to various places since I was a child and my paternal grandmother has a love of different cultures and people and travelled extensively. At age 85, she and a friend of 69 years travelled to Russian just because she had never been there. I think international travel and the desire and willingness to help others comes from her. In 1991 after being divorced for a few years and being a casuality of 'downsizing', I decided I wanted a change from the business culture and I had a longing to go to Kenya. I applied to Visions in Action, NGO based in Washington, DC and was accepted. My internship was with UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in Nairobi, Kenya. My assignment was to work with the refugees in and around Nairobi in microcredit, which involves small business loans enabling the refugees to be self-sustaining. This is being done all over the world and I am happy to know that micro credit is a growing business in the United States. At this time the Somali was going on and an influx of refugees were flooding over the border of Kenya, as many as 5,000 per day. I volunteered to work in one of the refugee camps, IFO, near Dadaab, Kenya. This was the most rewarding work I have ever experienced. I returned to the States in 1992 and got restless to go again, so I applied to Habitat for Humanity and the Peace Corp. I was accepted to both, but decided to go with Habitat of Humanity instead of the Peace Corp because my assignment was back in Africa in Zambia. Africa gets into one's blood.[Note: You can read about Bobbie's experience in Zambia at Habitat for Humanity International Zambia Misssion, 1996.]
>How has your experience been so far in Albania?
My experience in Albania was been wonderful so far. I left a week ago today and arrived on 5 May. I came to Qatrom camp near Korce, Albania on 6 May as we were expecting an influx of 6,000 refugees to arrive from Macedonia. Relief International is the camp managers and I am part of the camp management. The German military built the camp, the German Red Cross is putting in the water and santitation systems, Oxfam supplied the hardware for the water and sanitation systems, the Salvation Army is supplying the meals and storing the food, which is provided by World Food Program as well as donations from the Salvation Army, Medicine du Monde from Spain are the medical staff - this is all a wonderfully cooperative effort. We have several Albanians helping in the camp and especially with translation and logistics.
>What does your work consist of in Albania? How is it different from what you have done in the past, namely in Zambia, Nairobi and Guatemala?
I am with Relief International doing the camp management. Two new camps are being built in close proximity to the Qatrom camp and there is a strong likelihood that Relief will manage one if not both of the new camps. Relief International is also managing a camp in Kukes, Albania. RI is a humanitaria non-profit organization providing emergency relief, rehabilitation and development services to peoples affected by proverty, civil conflict and natural disasters worldwide. RI is currently providing Mobile health units, emergency campaigns, stationary clinics, reproductive health immunizations, children's centers, women's centers and camp management in Azerbaijan and will duplicate the programs in Albania. RI has been in Bosnia and other Balkin countries during the last few years of conflict as well as in some of the African nations.
I love working with refugees and I am grateful for this opportunity to be part of the Relief International team in their efforts in Albania. My work at UNHCR was similiar. Habitat for Humanity was different in that I was in charge of resource development and did not work directly with the Zambians in the village on an on-going basis. I always felt refreshed when I was able to go and work in the villages with the local people, bringing in work camp, working with the community leaders and helping to build houses. I had great satisfaction when I was able to get funding for 6 boreholes (wells) which provided water for nearly 30,000 people - Zambia had just come out of 4 years of drought and very hard times. This really made life so much easier for the Zambians in the rural areas. I also guided the community leaders in writing a proposal for a clinic - they had to involve the entire community and were able to get the clinic.
In Guatemala, I joined a group of 13 women from all over the US to work with the Myan women. We taught mediation and trauma relief techniques. We were there only 3 weeks, but it was a wonderful experience.
>How long did you spend in Zambia, Nairobi and Guatemala each? How long do you expect to be in Albania?
Two years in Zambia, 1 year in Kenya, 3 weeks in Guatemala. I expect to be in Albania for 6 months.
>Where have you visited and what have your roles been in working in those countries?
Please see previous answer.
>How successful do you feel you have been?
Absolutely and I have made lasting friendships which is very meaningful to me. I long to return to each place to learn of the developments and to see old friends again.,
>What have you experienced in Albania that has hindered to success of your mission?
Supplies, such as the cooking stoves, have not arrived and this makes it difficult for the refugees. We still do not have soap and shampoo for them. We have to rely on the donnor community and points of entry and border crossings for all supplies and this is not always timely. Our main concern is for the comfort and support of the refugees.
>What has helped make your job more successful?
The wonderful cooperation of everyone.
>Please describe to me the atmosphere of the camp and what it is like to deal with refugees who have been displaced from their families and homes on a daily basis?
Qatrom camp has only been in existent for 3 weeks and the finishing touches are still being done, such as the water system, fencing, cookers, which have not arrived. However, we have built a school and community center and community leaders have been elected by each cluster of tents (there are 33 cluster with 24 tents/cluster), one man and one woman per cluster. Self management is a key to the success of an camp and RI feels it is imperative to get the refugees involved immediately.
We are at one half of our capacity right now. Most of the refugees have come Prishtine and are quite educated and used to nice things. It is a difficult adjustment to live in a tent, use community bathing areas and pit latrines. The food which is the standard of UNHCR is not their ususal diet and of course, the trauma of being separated from loved ones and being forced from their homes. These people are delightful and I am beginning to work with the community leaders and the cooperation has been wonderful. I have a group of teenage refugees who are helping me and we are getting quite close. Some are even calling me "Mother".
>What kind of toll has it taken on you emotionally? Physicially?
Since I have worked with refugees before, I knew what to expect. Somehow while in this situation, you look passed the trauma and concentrate on the job at hand which is to support the refugees in whatever way is necessary.
>How is this job easier or harder than the ones you have participated with in >the past?
Don't know yet.
>What is your opinion about the NATO's mission and the ocnstant bombings? Do >you feel they should stop?
I cannot comment on this.
>When do you think a piece agreement will be developed to stop the bombing >and get the Yugoslavian troops out of Kosovo?
I cannot comment on this.
>Please feel free to add any additional comments you think I have neglected >to discuss of you feel are pertinent and relevant to the story. >Thank you very much for your time. > >Sincerely, > >Michael Samuels >Stuart News >Stuart, FL, USA
At 10PM last night 10 May 3 bus loads of refugees arrived from Macedonia - we were registering them and settling them in their tents until 2 AM. This is a very busy time and we are expecting 6,000 to cross the border at any time. I hope this helps but this is all the time I can spare right now. Thank you for your interest. Please contact Lisa at RI 310/572-7770 for further information on Relief International and how someone can help. Donations can be accepted at 1-888-778-7452.
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 22:34:19 +0200
>Glad to hear that things are going as well as can be expected.
Tonight I am very tired, but I am loving it.
> Tell me about the food and drink situation and >how that is managed for the refugees.
The Salvation Army is presently cooking for all the refugees. World Food Program supplies the food. Salvation Army hires refugees to do the cooking. Long lines are formed for the collection of food to be taken back to the tents. The process is slow and the refugees complain. They send their children to stand in line and the children often come with one plate for their own serving instead of bringing the bucket for the entire family. The refugees complain and we have repeated ask the community leaders to have the adults get the food, but nothing happens. They like to complain. The amount of food is within UNHCR guidelines, but they complain because the meal does not include meat and they feel if there is a meal without meat, it is not a meal. Much like to Zambians, who did not consider a meal as a meal without mealie meal. hard to please.
> How about clothing and medical supplies?
Clothing was once distributed and the refugees did not like the second hand clothes and nearly one half of the clothing was thrown into the garbage. We are not distributing more clothing at the moment. They complained about not having shoes and when shoes were distributed they would not take them because they wanted Nikes. It is a problem.
Medicine is dispensed by the doctors provided by Medicine de Monde, a group from Spain. All are treated in medical tents and most of the complaints are upper respitory ailments and diarrhea, lice and scavies. There is one tent designated for only women and women's issues. I will be working to set up women's groups to discuss safety, rape, contraception and everything else.
> Is most of the communication by body language?
There are many in the camp that speak English and we work with them. I now know a few words in Albanian and they all love it when I try to say something. These people are lovely, warm and friendly and very generous. I was asked by 3 people today to come to their tent for coffee. I have been called Mother by several of the teenagers and get hugs. I really love being here - there is so much to day and doing just something little is perceived big. I am now working with the community leaders on a daily basis. I have told them I will help solve their problems but they will have to help me solve my problems. Several picnic tables were stolen and I told them I would not distribute anything else until the tables were returned. Some were returned today. More will be returned. The other day while I was distributing beds, I was crowded by several people - feeling clostrophbic and asked repeatedly for people to move back and only have the community leaders around. They refused, so I stopped distribution. The next day everything was orderly. I will only work through the community leaders and have had to turn some individuals away. We must establish this policy as we want self managment within the community. Hard to establish at first, but absolutely.
>Mostly women, children and older people?
A mixture of people. We have children's activities all morning until noon. We do not call it school or education as the Albanian government will not allow it for fear of giving the refugee children a better education - sooooo. There are many teenagers here. I have a wonderful group that are volunteering and we all are having fun together. They are just great.
>You and all your people are in my prayers today, tomorrow and forever.
Thanks - This is longer than I thought it would be. Tomorrow the ICRC (Red Cross) will be sending a team to the camp with radios so the refugees can contact relatives at home to let them know where they are and that they are safe. They also have a very active reunification program and will try to locate members of families that are elsewhere. The cooperation of all NGO's is wonderful. Also the Turks want to build a bakery in our camp to bake bread, which is a staple for these people, and train about 14 refugees to bake the bread for the anticipated influx. When the refugees return home then the bakery will go with them. The promise is that nothing will interfere with the local bakeries and will only be done for any overflow. All food stuffs will come from World Food Program.
I understand the KLA is recruiting in the camps and I have heard rumors that they have/are recruiting in our camp - I mispelled it before the name is Qatrom, which is the name of the town just south of Korce. One man told me he was alone as his sons were taken by the KLA. This is not by physical, but there is a subtle pressure of duty to join the KLA. Relief International has another camp close to the border in the north of Albania - that is where the shelling is - we are safe here for the moment. The NATO forces are on our camp grounds with with satelite dishes, and barbed wire around the fence. The helicopters land on a regular basis, there will be 120 personnel here within the next couple of days. Their presence is VERY visible. We all are now hobnobbing with the Brigadere General and all those below him. We meet every day for a briefing of all the activities including the weather.
For now no more TV interviews and I am grateful.
A big complaint with the refugees is there is no hot water for showers and the tents do not have electricity. The local people in the villages do not have hot water or electricity and the refugees here are actually living better than many Albanians in the villages . Touchy area!!
This is much longer than I intended so I will distribute to others,
okay. Happy and well,
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 06:42:37 +0200
Again I am copying everyone. Sorry I have not written in the last couple of days - these 12 - 14 hours days are getting longer. Everyone here had colds, both staff and refugees. I have just gotten it, so I am dragging a bit.
It is getting light about 5 AM right now and I seem to wake up when it gets light. Besides the dog of the owner of the house we are living in is chained to the roof outside our windows and barks. We are thinking of moving as this situation isn't wonderful. It is difficult to have the living quarters and office mixed together - this makes it 24 hours a day. It is almost impossible to sleep as others may be working. We may have found a house which would as least put the office on one floor and the sleeping quarters on the other floor. The good news we have found a couple of Korce women who are helping us - one cleans and the other cooks and she is a great cook - this I could get used to. I think all of us would just eat cereal for dinner, if she were not here. There really isn't enough time to buy food and cook in this job.
We had another 2 bus loads of refugees arrive from Macedonia yesterday. Everything was more coordinated and we were informed when they left the border. It is approximately a 2 hours drive from the border so we had ample time to prepare to received them. They arrived at camp around 3:30 PM and were all registered and taken to their tents by 5 PM. At 5 PM we attend the NATO briefing with all kinds of reports of the status of things here as well as the overall situation of the war plus a weather report. NATO is here to help build the 4 new camps which will be in this area. UNHCR has not determined which NGO's will manage the camp, but have promised to make a decision by Tuesday. RI has made a proposal to manage 2 other camps - if we get them, life will be very busy. I guess the camps can be set up in a couple of weeks. One of the snags is the local government will not give the land and so negotiations must be made with private land owners. (With all this activity here, prices get inflated). Having the international relief workers here has helped the local economy immensely. Housing is at a premium with everyone coming in. Many of the families are renting their houses (the going rate is US$1,000/month)and moving in with relatives as a way to earn income.
The town of Korce is quite nice. I walked along a tree lined street the other night. Police block off the street so pedestrians can walk. There was a lovely little park - I will have to go and take photos one of these days. One of the young Albanian men, who has been absolutely marvelous as an interpreter for me, showned me the town. We have been cautioned not to walk alone in the evening, and especially not after dark. I was wearing my fanny pack in the morning going to meetings and was being watched, so I have stopped wearing it and carry only my notepad with me. It is an eiry feeling being watched.
Another concern is the standardization of salaries for the local Albanian people who will act as drivers, interpreters, cooks etc. Otherwise there will be a bidding war and since all of our monetary support comes from donations, individual or government, we must be responsible. The local government has set a standard which we all must adhere to. However, it has come too late in some cases. UNHCR advises that the refugees do not get paid for any work, but do all jobs as volunteers. Again this has come a bit late. We havae to be so very aware of not giving special priviledges to a few - all must be treated the same.
There is so much to tell and say, I can't begin to write it all down. Marci Van Dyke, who has been here and started managing the camp is probably going to leave. She is totally burned out and I understand, but it will put a lot of pressure on me - this is more than a one man job.
Refugees from neighboring villages and host families keep arriving at our camp, often just as we are about to leave. The camps were not designed for this influx, but for the Macedonian refugees. I will bring it to the attention of UNHCR at our meeting this morning - everyday at 8 AM - no weekends off.
>There was a great article about you on the front page of >the local section of the Stuart New today. Will keep it >for you, along with Jeri's column and your past e-mails. >Guess that I'll just start a Bobbie File :-).
Thanks, Bev. There is very little time to journal, so part of these emails is journalling for me.
One of the refugee teenagers who is working with us introduced me to her younger sister. I was then taken to their tent and met the mother and father. They invited me into their tent and made coffee for me. None of them spoke English and I know 4 words of Albanian, but we communicated through sign language. I learned that the mother's mother is in Kukes - I will pass this information on to ICRC (International committee of the Red Cross) for reunification. They also told me their house had been burned to the ground, then they all start to cry silently. I held the teenager in my arms and I cried along with them. I have not had time to listen to individual stories, but plan to as some point. The father told me he carried everything that is in the tent on his back and they left Prishtin, the capital of Kosovo in April. They are just a beautiful family. All 8 of them arrived here safely.
>Remember that I, or we, are uninformed, so please >explain when you use initials. i.e. What does KLA >stand for?
KLA is the Kosova Liberation Army and they are recruiting in the camps. Several young men have left our camp and I now understand that they are recruiting young women. This is all very secretive, but some of the women have told the women relief workers that their sons have been taken. There is subtle pressure to join, but apparently no one is forced to join.
NGO's - Non governmental organizations - any relief organization that is not government run. Most of the relief agencies that are here are NGO's from Europe and North America.
>Tell me about the children. About how many and what ages?
There are approximately 80 babies and 700 children in the camp. We are only half full, so I imagine those numbers will double when the camp reached full capacity of 5,000.
ICRC surveys the camp and told us that the children are less vulnerable than they had imagined. Some have been separated from their families, but other have taken them in. Each morning until noon there is children's activities in 3 large tents. There is schooling, but we cannot call it schooling as the local government is fearful that the education in the camps will be better than the villages. RI has just hired an education specialist who will be working along with the camp educators. There is physical activities, a social workers program as well a phychologists etc. and more are coming.
>schoolteacher in me and GAL (Guardian Ad-Litem) worries about the >children. Do most of them have responsible parents or relatives with >them? > >Explain about the community and community leaders. When you speak of >the community, is that the entire camp or a part of the camp. Are the >community leaders all from Relief International? What is your title?
The camp is divided into clusters with 20 - 24 tents per cluster. Each cluster elects two people, one of which is a woman, to represent them and they are the community leaders. We want to establish self management in the camp, meaning that the refugees organized themselves and become responsible for life in the camp - safety, health, water, santitation, recreaction, women's issues etc. all run by refugee committees. Rules of punishment must be established also by them.
Love to all,
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 06:42:14 +0200
We received this "briefing" and I thought you might like to read it. It is quite lengthy and detailed, but it explains the situation quite clearly. Relief International (RI), the organization I am with is managing one of the camps in Kukes.
The Nato forces are looking into getting a radio communication set up for all NGO's and relief agencies in case of an emergency evacuation. Apparently the British is willing to fund this. An evacuation route will be established and there is a helicopter landing area at Qatrom Camp, which is where I am. That area will also be used for any medical evacuation.
I attend a NATO briefing each afternoon at 5 PM or 1700 hours as they say. I attend a 8 AM meeting at UNHCR (United Nations High Commisioner for Refugees) as do all other relief agencies.
Hope this gives a better picture of the situation.
X-Lotus-FromDomain: INTERACTION >From: "Jim Bishop"
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 13:02:17 +0200
Hi. I can answer a couple of the questions that Bobbie did not get to...
You wrote: >>Explain about the community and community leaders. When you speak of >>the community, is that the entire camp or a part of the camp. Are the >>community leaders all from Relief International? What is your title?
When she refers to the community she means the refugees--the people in the camp. The RI staff is tiny--there are a few people who run the camp (maybe just Bobbie once the other manager leaves, but I am not sure), and then there are a number of other people (most likely less than 20 total) who provide medical and the other services she describes. There are 5,000 refugees there (or something in that neighborhood). So what the manager does is divides the camp into groups (24 clusters, as she explained) and each group elects a leader. Those people meet with the manager (Bobbie) and other relevant people once a day to discuss the issues that need to be addressed. Thus, the camp is very much 'run' by the people in the camp--the NGO staff is bare bones, and they cannot be effective w/o the voluntary help of the refugees themselves. That is why Bobbie is stressing the need for establishing discipline in the camp. Does that help clarify?
Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 07:01:20 +0200
We have drivers to take us places - really to the camp and back., but we can send them on errands if need be.
The Salvation Army is providing us with soup for lunch and we can get coffee during the day - they have a mobile canteen outside our compound. Otherwise, we would go without lunch.
We need to devise a plan of time off. Right now there is none and this work is everyday - 12 - 16 hour days. Two of the Albanian staff have been here since 5 May without a break. I am sending one back to Tirana for 2 days and then we will rotate the other. We really need more staff - it is impossible to do everything. Also we need to take some afternoons off; it will also have to be on a rotational basis.
RI has just been awarded the camp management of the second German camp, referred to German camp 1 (Qatrom) and German camp 2 - this is because the German military built Qatrom and will build the second camp. Joanna, who has just arrived here from the US, and was initially going to do education, has expressed interest in camp management. I will be "training" her for the next few days and to tell you the truth, I am grateful for her help - she will help me with the spreadsheet tracking the number of refugees in the camp - there seems to be no time to do that. Maybe with my lap top I can do some work at the site. RI is recruiting for more staff. Anyone interested in joining me? It really is an opportunity of a life time - a rich and rewarding experience.
I was awakened this morning at 4:45 AM by the morning prayers. We are in a Muslim community and I would say 99% of the refugees are Muslim. We received a carton of the Koran in Albanian - I have no idea where it came from or how it was delivered. Some of the food that has been donated contains pork. This MUST be separated immediately. If any of the refugees suspect pork was in their food they will never trust us again. This is such a sensitive issue. I brought it up in the UNHCR briefing - we all have to be most aware of this.
Last night Joanna, 2 of the Albanian staff, and I went for a beer and dancing at a disco. I really needed that. I had a meeting at 9 PM so I had to leave, but it really was just what the doctor ordered. No thought of refugees for 1 hour.
Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 07:01:00 +0200
Well, luck was shining on us that day - Care International took over the delivery of the bread and during the transfer to them from Dorkas, (a Dutch NGO, I believe). The formula for the bread changed and it is now 23% more in terms of weight, meaning that for every 100 loaves, they are now receiving 123 - this seemed to please the 3 community leaders that attended the meaning, but I do not believe that the information was transmitted to the rest of the refugees, because at a meeting later with all the heads of the family, the question of bread came up again.
Another food complaint is the quantity. The refugees are actually getting more than WFP's standard amount; however, it is not the diet they are used to, so consequently they will not be satisfied. This is really a universal problem within refugee camps. No where, it seems, do the refugees get their diets, but are given the basics of WFP, which is: wheat flour, 14 kilos/person/month (466 grams of wheat flour /day) 1 litre of oil/person/month, 1 kilo of beans/person/month and 1 kilo of sugar/person/month. At the camp the refugees are receiving 2 cans of canned herring a week. They also receive eggs or cheese each day. I am not sure what the rest of the menu looks like. The feeding has gone from 2x/day to 3x/day, which is less of a portion per meal.
The other problem is the refugees are moving around without telling us and since they are assigned to a certain "kitchen" (which is a tent for food distribution and they all have to stand in line with their buckets and have the food dished out)the number of people change, and the Salvation Army, who is in charge of the food, is not informed, so one kitchen may run out of food although the amount for the camp is accurate. The community leaders have promised to give us an accurate update, but this has yet to happen. I have been told by Elton, who is an Albanian working for RI and translates for me, that the mentality of the Albanians is to take without giving. Gas cookers are on order and each cluster of refugees will get a 4 burner cooker and then they will be able to cook their own food, but they still will not like the food - it is not meat and potatoes.
Luck was shining on us again yesterday re: another issue of discontent - pampers. Pampers were delivered by the Danish Nato forces - they stood guard as the truck was unloaded. The truck was huge about the size of a flatbed truck. It also contained disinfectant for the pit latrines, soap and shampoo. I counted the number of babies, using the criteria of those born in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and then had a distribtion of 25 pampers/baby/week. We are supposed to be getting cloth pampers which will be better from a garbage standpoint. However, a separate washing area must be created so the main water is not contaminated. As you can see there are many aspects to this that needs to be addressed.
Another issue that does not go away is the matter of hot water, often expressed as there are no showers. We do have a shower area, but one has to wash using a bucket and a cup. Also the water is cold - not the most pleasant, but now that the weather is warm and somedays hot, it is not so bad - I understand it is freezing here in the winter. The underlying complaint is that culturally the women need to wash after having sexual relations, which is referred to as needing to wash their hair. This I learned from a woman who worked in Kosovo for 10 years. She told me she can understand the underlining meaning of what is being said - I will never in a million years be able to do that. We just muddle through as best we can by listening and trying to resolve the issues. I am having difficulty getting the community leaders to hold up to their side of the bargain. Measures like not giving distributions until they comply works - hate using that though.
I think, how would my attitude be if I had been forced from my home and country, seeing loved ones die and my house and possessions destroyed and forced to live in a tent with food I was not used to, cold water, etc.? Would I complain? Also, I have the sense that so much of their lives is no longer in their control, that the one thing they can control is complaining. So I listen and try to address what issues I can.
Crowding is an issue when there are meetings, distributions etc. The crowding is very uncomfortable and claustrophobic. It is not like going to a football game in a crowd - it actually is a bit frightening - maybe I am reacting to some of the situations in Kenya when I worked in a refugee camp and they started to riot. There is always the potential for unrest.
I guess this is long enough - Last night a couple of the young Albanian staff took Joanna, a new arrival from the States, and me dancing at a disco here in Korce. It was such a marvelous release of tension - we had a beer and actually forgot the refugees for an hour. We had to return early as Joanna and I had a meeting to attend at 9 PM - didn't get to bed til midnight - I am pushing it a bit as I wake up at 5 and am used to going to bed at 10 PM - will try tonight for 10.
>Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 10:25:26 +0000 >From: (Larry Stucky) >Subject: UNHCR debriefing 16 May 1999 > >16 May 1999 - Meeting with the UNHCR representative at the Prefekture at >8:00 a.m. > >The Prime Minister of Albania will arrive this morning at 9:30 a.m. and >would like to meet with all NGOs working at Qatrom. > >Friday night on Bulevard Republika at around 1:00 a.m., there was an >incident with a grenade thrown and AK47 shots, with one person dead. Be >very cautious at night, and don't walk the town. > >NATO announced that it will probably rain today. > >On the political side, it is interesting to know that the opposition party >in Montenegro has asked for the resignation of the government head-perhaps >a precursor of upcoming situations. > >Yesterday the UNHCR went to the Greek border, expecting 9 trucks coming >with tents. > >UNHCR has have been working on the Lake site. A total of 11 sites have been >identified (including present sites) with a total capacity of 47,000 >persons. We are starting to get closer to our 65,000 quota. Some problems >have arisen with the new site near Qatrom, with the villagers changing >their story about their expectations. > >There were some problems yesterday with the expectations among the Qatrom >camp refugees related to loaves of bread. Conversations were held with camp >leaders and the organizations that were involved. There was also a lack of >Pampers. There is a need to have a more exact figure for how many children >need Pampers. The French military have some Pampers. There is also a need >to think about the children in private accommodations and collective >centers as well. NGOs are requested to provide more accurate figures of the >age breakdown in the population. [For adults, gender figures are also >helpful.] > >UNHCR had set today as the deadline for proposals related to managing >collective centers, regardless of size. Those which have already been >turned in have not been read as of yet. > >A meeting with Red Cross related to food distribution in Devoll took place, >verifying that there are some gaps with the Albanian Red Cross still to be >filled in. > >Inacio: For organizations intending to import goods at the border crossing >from Greece (or at the port of Durrės), contact UNHCR 10-15 days in advance >in order to get your goods into the country. > >British Dept. of Int. cooperation has offered to finance the VHF radio >repeaters. Within 2 weeks' time, it is hoped to have a common radio system. >One channel will be reserved for emergencies. A procedure will be >established which would alert everybody on the system as to when they would >switch to the emergency channel. > >Qatrom: Another 66 refugees arrived from Devoll in the morning for unknown >reasons. One man was reunited with his family from Kukės. There was one man >in a wheelchair, which is out of character with the nature of the >facilities. He needs to be relocated. It was suggested that he be referred >to SOS Albania in their plans to have up to 200 places for such cases. > >Karin & Bobi: Railings should be installed for the pit latrines, in view of >the higher concentration of elderly among the population. Also the doors >should be made a bit wider than normal. Oxfam acknowledged the >observations. > >Dorkas came to Qatrom again for mattresses: about 900 have been taken by >them to Devoll in the last two days. Qatrom has more blankets than they >know what to do with. There is a need to have lists at UNHCR of who has >which supplies in larger quantities. > >Darrell brought some lice shampoo to Qatrom. More lice shampoo is needed, >and the location of such supplies is solicited. > >Some pork was found in the Qatrom camp-potato chips with bacon drippings. >These could go to host families whose religious sensibilities would not be >offended. The Salvation Army is requested to go through the food stocks to >identify any foods containing pork. It will be important for the refugees >to know why food is being taken out of the camp, since they are sensitive >to such things, feeling that their supply of food is not excessive. > >Mission East is studying the possibility of hiring some contractors through >OXFAM to possibly repair toilets at the Macedonian border. UNHCR: Any >change made to one camp needs to be made in all the camps. > >World Relief brought two computers from Greece yesterday and ended up >paying an exorbitant import tax. This is critical equipment. WR is >requesting input on any changes related to their Lozhan center management >proposal, but UNHCR has not read it yet. > >Red Cross is intending to start distribution as soon as possible in Devoll. >There are 20 tons of wheat flour in their warehouse. UNHCR is very >concerned about the situation in Devoll, not wanting to have 1800 people >trickle or stream into the camps. Then the camps would be full and Devoll >would be empty. Tirana called asking what our present capacity in the camps >is for receiving people. This is only about 2000 people. Public thanks to >CARE & WFP for their assistance in this Devoll problem. > >Red Cross also needs figures for those in host families, including the >breakdown of babies under 2 years of age. This is for hygiene packages. >There are also elderly that have similar needs. > >CARE needs to set up email for their operations in Korcha. One ISP >organization has offered to set up a server in Korcha if there would be 25 >subscribers. It was questioned whether this would include internet access >or only email service. If it would include internet, there is likely to be >a good response. Otherwise, aol in Macedonia or maf in Tirana are options. > >WFP: 24-hour advance is needed to know how many loaves to prepare for >Qatrom so that the yeast can be mixed in with the flour. The central issue >for WFP is the Turkish bakery. UNHCR observed that many of the potential >buildings are related to the Ministry of Defense. It would be helpful to >arrive at a blanket policy related to refurbishing buildings in general, >rather than dealing with these questions on a case by case basis. >Permission to lay the concrete slab was not given, but it is only 6 cms >thick and can be broken up at the end of its service. It is a sanitary >precaution to keep dust from getting into the bread. People are showing up >at Qatrom claiming authority to remove goods and supplies. WFP will be >removing the baby food and requested and received authorization to remove >it on the part of UNHCR. > >Last night NATO gave their pay scale to UNHCR, but it doesn't include how >many hours per day of work. This will be shared by UNHCR as soon as there >is some detail. > >Corrections to each day's minutes are solicited, recognizing that they are >also posted in a public place. If there are things included in a given >day's minutes that are inaccurate or offensive, it will be important to >correct those in the next day's minutes and to circulate the corrections to >the same circulation list. This is not a completely private document, since >one copy is posted publicly as well.
Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 06:39:12 +0200
Hi - so much happens in one day, it is difficult to write it all down or to process it. Here is a report from the medical staff (MDM - Medicine du Monde - Spain) that I thought might be of interest. If anyone is interested in helping us here - baseball caps and sunscreen are needed.
Assessment is being done regarding psycho-social problems. Now that basic needs have been taken care of, more and more of these psycho-social problems are surfacing (inability to sleep, etc.). Sunburn and headache problems are arising in greater numbers, so donations of sunblock and shade tarps, etc., are needed.
I have written a proposal to UNHCR to get more plastic, one sheet per two tents, so shade tarps can be made. Also the German Red Cross will help us to put hand railings in the pit latrines for the elderly who have a difficult time squatting. I now have one wheelchair person in the camp -there are no facilities for him and it is difficult for movement either on the grass or the gravel road. With these issues arising, Oxfam is now building all latrines with wider doors and hand railings. I guess our camp is the guinea pig, but it will make things easier as we build the other camps. We have almost definitely been chosen by UNHCR to manage the second German camp - referred to as German camp 2. Another issue that came to my attention is the need for diapers for the elderly - I had only one set of 10 and they are badly needed. I have one man that is 100 years old - how pray tell did he make it over the mountains?!
I have never told you, it is beautiful here - we are surrounded by mountains, some still have snow on them. As we come to the camp from town, shepards, holding staffs, gather their flocks of sheep to graze. I feel like I have moved back in time - it is such a picturesque scene. (We had a sheep hip for dinner the other night - it was pretty tastey). One of these days when I am not so busy, I will stop to photograph some of them. Donkeys are widely used for transport. Often a wooden saddle is attached to them and people ride on their backs as well as transporting goods. The camp is very dry and dusty. We come home with a layer of dirt and pray there is water for a shower. I am so glad I brought my solar shower - I have used it several times. Being in the valley, it generally cools off at night - much like the desert. Rain is predicted for today.
I had a US delegation come to camp yesterday, wanting details regarding the numbers and expected flow of refugees from Macedonia. UNHCR received a fax from the Macedonian government yesterday stating that as of Friday, 21 May, a convoy of refugees transporting 500 refugees/convoy, will arrive on Tuesdays and Fridays. If this truly does happen, it will make things easier for us as we will have time to prepare tent locations, headcounts, availability of materials, etc. The test will come on Friday. In the meantime the camp is filling with those refugees already here, but in the villages in collective centers or with host families. The problem is they are not getting support from the relief organizations so a big push is on to get that handled and it is starting. The NATO troups are here to build the extra camps, to accommodate an additional 60,000 refugees from Macedonia. If our camp fills with refugees from here and NOT Macedonia then the NATO troups will be sent back to Macedonia to do their original job of peace keeping. It is a mess. We have been informed that more fighting is going on and an expected 100,000 people from Kosovo will flood into Macedonia and if the refugees who are now in Macedonia are not moved to Korce, the lives of those still in Kosovo are in danger. It is imperative we get this under control. Part of the problem is that UNHCR has been dragging their feet and not choosing which organization will manage what camp, so the camps cannot be built - round and round we go.
I have spoken with the education director of the camp and asked him if it would be possible for the children of the camp to communicate with some of the US school children. He said he would write a letter and it will be passed through me. Hopefully this will happen and I will pass the information on and you can distribute the information to teachers if you want. I think it would be such a wonderful way of making connections for both parties.
It was confirmed by the US delegation yesterday the problems with some of the camps in Kukes - very north of me. A gang has been going into some of the camps, selling drugs and grabbing young girls for prostitution and comfort girls, much like what happened in Korea. The word has gotten to our camp and great fear was expressed in a meeting with the community leaders - I have brought this to the attention of Gerard Fayoux, who is Head of Office at UNHCR here in Korce, and he will bring it to the attention of the Prefect, who is the head of the local government, and then it turns to the local police. We have hired a private security agency to guard materials etc., but the local government does not want armed guards in the camp area, and we don't want that either - tensions are high enough.
We had a bread riot the other day - bread being a staple of the Albanian diet. Yesterday CARE was 2 hours late in delivering the bread and today and Thursday there will be a black out (power outage) from 8 AM - 4 PM or 7 AM - 7PM (we have heard both) and the local bakeries have no back up generators. We are trying to resolve the problem so the refugees as well as the local people get their bread. I will explain this to the refugees today, warning them of the potential problem - this will not be a pleasant job. WFP wants to put a bakery, donated by the Turks, to operate and train refugees and then to remove and take back to Kosovo when the refugees return. Here is what is going on.
Yesterday the Prime Minister and the Deputy Minister came to Qatrom, fulfilling their role. UNHCR asked them for a blanket agreement related to the buildings. No commitment was received, and in the bargaining process, they also made some requests. The PM did not actually meet with the NGOs. Regarding the Turkish bakery, local government is reporting that only 30% of the local capacity is being used, so they are reluctant to authorize the installation of another bakery that could be considered as competition. WFP has written a letter to the Prefekt explaining the intent not to displace any local production and outlining the gradual implementation of the new bakery's output. Wednesday and Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., there may be power blackouts in town (rumored by a local baker), which would necessitate the use of power generators to guarantee the ongoing furnishing of bread for the camps and centers. The ambition for the Turkish bakery is to train Kosovars in bread production, and eventually the bakery would be transferred to Kosova.
Sometime I will have to do a needs assessment regarding those who need
crutches/wheelchairs etc. Don't know when that time will come. There is so
much more to tell, but I hope this is providing some information. Sending
love to all,
Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 06:39:41 +0200
Hi Mary, So good to hear from you and so glad you have email.
>I would like to know more about the medical situation there with >people being in such crowded conditions, etc. What facilities >are available to care for the more ordinary and more serious >illnesses?
The news you receive about the crowding is in the Kukes area. Our camp is not yet full and is a good model, one which will be duplicated in this area as other camps are being built. Medicine du Monde, Spain, is in charge of the medical facilities. They have a tent clinic on site and recieve refugees from 8 AM - 7 PM or there abouts. During the evenings a Albanian doctor is covering on site. An ambulance is available 24 hours per day - however, at night communication is made from the camp to the focal MDM doctor and if an ambulance is needed one is sent from the local hospital. There are procedures in place to medivac serious cases. We have a helicopter landing site right beside our camp. This is because of the NATO forces being here, but the landing site will remain after they leave, which will happen in about 3 weeks time.
We all communicate around the camp with radios. DIFIT (sp) a British organization, will fund radio communication between all relief organizations and UNHCR. We will have an emergency evacuation plan and channel. This should all be in place within the next two weeks. One day I left my radio at the house and I was absolutely lost.
A solar shower is being donated and will be tried out at the medical tent and used for the purpose of delousing the refugees. Apparently this is a major problem here in the camp. Sunburn and headaches are common now that it is getting warmer. Per my other message, psycho/social problems are arising.
I am trying to get a list of all midwives in the camp to assist with birthing, especially during the night. I must remember to discuss this with the refugees - there was a concern about ambulance coverage, and there is ambulance coverage at night, but it has to be called in. I don't always remember to tell them everything - there is so much information in my head.
Hope this helps some - it is only scratching the surface.
Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 08:12:02 +0200
From: Bobbie Lord
I was at the school the other day and saw some of the children's drawings. They consist of burning buildings, bloody bodies and crying children. Many of the children cannot sleep at night and there have been repeated requests for candles which we really cannot allow in the tents because of potential fire - we have no means of putting out fires and I have yet to form a fire patrol. We have been told by the medical staff that now things are a bit settled, there is more of a need for a psycho/social program because the patients are now willing to discuss the trauma when encouraged.
The coordinator of children's activities has written a very poignant letter to everyone I write to (I requested that he do it). Some of the translation is not good, so I am having someone else translate and then I will send it. I cried when I read it - I was a bit embrassed because I read it at the compound (where we have our tent office at the camp) and some of the refugee helpers saw me.
I am amazed how quickly I can get attached to these people. One of the community leaders has decided to leave Qatrom and go to the Greek camp, Pogradec. He was one of the leaders I liked the best and I was very tearful when I said goodbye. I asked him why he was leaving and he said he was being bothered by some in the camp and he had to leave. I do not know what that means exactly, but from what I have been able to understand, there are clans among the Kosovar people and there is bitterness between the various clans - so perhaps he was meaning this, or maybe it was because he was the leader and everyone was hasseling him - this is only speculation on my part, but I would lean towards the first explanation.
A delegation of 20 Kosovar refugees living in Macedonia came yesterday to "inspect" the camp to see if the refugees in Macedonia should be encouraged to come here. Everything went well for a while. The refugee leader spoke to the group and said great things about the camp and then outside when he had the journalists' attention, he told them how terrible this camp was. I have experienced this two-facedness with him before. During the bread incident, he was asked to control the crowd and he flatly refused and did the opposite and incited them more. We are going to have a chat with him today. I had the same thing with the leader when I worked in Kenya. It is very difficult to deal with. One time we had to disband the entire committee start over. I knew from the start that I would not be able to trust this man and I told Elton, who is my right hand man here, to watch him for me. I feel so very discouraged when I come up against this. I really do not know how to deal with it or make it better. He will say to my face what he thinks I want to hear and then do the exact opposite to cause unrest and discontent. It is a huge problem - I do so much to try to make things as comfortable for them as possible and this kind of thing really hurts. Why is it that the bad apple becomes the leader?
The Salvation Army donated a TV and VCR to the camp. The TV is fine, but there are no video tapes for them. They would have preferred a satellite to see news, esp. the Serb TV.
We are having another group arrive from Macedonia today - I have heard the count will be 500, so it will be a busy day. We need to get the camp filled because the refugees who are here are destroying the empty tents, taking the ropes and the poles for themselves. I have ordered more plastic from UNHCR so they can make awnings (referred to as shadows) but it has not come yet.
Must run to my meeting.
Much love to all,
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 06:46:20 +0200
From: Bobbie Lord
There are so many things to tell that I forget to pass on. The US State Dept. has a team that is working in Qatrom camp to gather stories for the war crime tribunal to support the charges against Milosevic. They all met with the refugee board and they agreed to assist the team. In order for the refugees to feel safe, the team will go from tent to tent to gather the information. At first the team thought of putting up a tent and having the refugees come there, but the board decided it would be best for them to go tent to tent.
The very next day, I heard from MDM (medical) a rumor was going around that there were 2 Serb journalists collecting stories. I asked them to verify this, but have heard nothing. I told MDM of the team investigating for the war crime tribunal. I am sure that is what was seen.
Yesterday the head of education in this district came to our tent and met with the coordinator of children's activities and a few others. There were 3 Albanian teachers in all and they were very insistent that the refugee children go to the school in the village of Qatrom for the summer session. The meeting became very heated with everyone talking at once. I could not understand why the Albanian was so forcefully insistent. It has been my understanding that the Albanian teachers will train the refugees in teaching - actually this whole thing is a bit political, because we cannot say we have a school in the camp, only that there are children's activities. The local government is "afraid" the refugee children will get a better education so there is a desire for control. The major objection from the refugee point of view is that the parents do not want to be separated from their children - there has been enough separation from family members and the fear is very real for them.
We, the camp management, stopped the heated discussion and walked to the village to the school - the school was surprisingly nice, much better than any of the village schools I saw in Africa. Each classroom has rows of table/benches, each seating two students, and a heater for the winter. Apparently it is VERY cold here in the winter. It took us 16 minutes to walk to the school and it would take the children another 15 minutes or so to walk there. After more heated discussions, I suggested that a proposal be made, so it could be presented to the parents and that only the older children could go there - it was too far for the younger children. I said there was no need for all the shouting and that a compromise could be met. I guess they liked the way I handled everything because I was then invited to come on Monday for coffee. I said diplomacy was always the best way and the headmaster, I don't remember his real title, said he didn't know anything about diplomacy and teachers always spoke in loud voices. We will see what happens.
I asked the interpreter to find out what was the hidden meaning of the insistence - I learned that an organization will pay the Albanians money for offering the school to the refugees and the teachers will get paid. Makes perfect sense to me now!!!!
Today there is a concert with the school children. I was able to get microphones and an amplifier for them - everyone is invited including the local government officals. I was told that the singing has reduced the trauma for many of the children and that they are sleeping better at night.
When I was at the school the other day, the pictures they draw are of burning buildings, bloody bodies and crying children. What they have witnessed will remain with them, but hopefully in time the images will fade and some kind of normalcy will return.
Jeff Farr, who is with RI based in LA, is here helping to set up things, spoke with the chairman of the refugee board yesterday and discussed his two facedness. The interpreter wasn't really good, so Jeff did not get a good feeling about the communication. However, the chairman is on notice so to speak and we will see what happens. The interpreter, who is a refugee, asked Jeff if the chairman should be replaced. Jeff's reply is that he could not dictate that but the board would have to decide. I don't believe or trust the chairman - I know he will say what we want to hear to our face, and do the opposite. I have seen it time and again. The thing to have happen is for the board to see it and decide to change without being intimidated. We'll see.
Have a great day!
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 21:00:26 +0200
From: Bobbie Lord
Today was a very special day. It was the day of the children's concert. I had invited UNHCR, NATO and all other NGO's to attend at 11 AM, only to learn at 10 AM that the concert would be held at 4 PM - redfaced I had to tell people as they came that the time had been changed. Fortunately, many people were able to return. The Dutch NGO, Dorkas, had microphones, amplifiers and a stage they lent to the children. The presentation was so professional and so well organized.
I was fortunate that I had an American, who has lived here for a few years and speaks fluently, translate most of the poems and the songs (expect when they were in specific dialects). I was so moved by what was being said and sung.
The National Anthem was sung and then the coordinator of children's activities spoke a few words, followed by one of the teachers. The MC introduced each child before s/he spoke, many reading their own compositions and poems. The first poems were filled with anger and bitterness, speaking of their mother's blood being spilled into the earth, the bombs, the burning houses. One third grade girl wrote a poem about her empty school. There was a small boy, second or third grade, who wrote a poem about his father and his brothers who had stayed in Kosovo to fight and afterwards he was presented with an arm band of the KLA - everyone cheered and cried at the same time. The little boy broke into tears as he heralded his father and brothers. There was one poem about the loss of innocence, or mother's and sister's being raped, of bayonets - all this coming from the mouths of 7, 8, 9, and 10 year olds. There were some very poignant poems written by older children, who were in the 8th grade. One entire poem was devoted to the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army). The anger then subsided into hope and freedom and the return to a free Kosovo.
I am amazed at the performance and carry a heavy heart at the trauma, suffering and pain these children have endured. At the end the teacher said: 'I hope for a little while, you have been able to forget your pain and suffering, and have been able to smile with the children.' The spirit of unity was very evident. They also thanked the Albanians for so warmly accepting them into their country and welcoming them. I wish I could express how deeply touched and moved I was - I could feel their pain, anger and suffering and at the same time sense their feelings of hope for freedom and return to their beloved homeland.
Praying for peace worldwide. The effects of war are devastating, but not only war, but killing of any kind. When is this madness going to end? What provokes the children in the US to take up arms and do mass killings in schools? I wish they could be here to hear the pain and suffering these children have gone through.
It will take me some time to integrate this experience - it does make me more determined to bring comfort to them and a sense of community while they are here. I have heard on tonight's news that it will be two years before they can expect to return to their homeland because of so much distruction. I have spoken to several refugees whose homes were burned to the ground and they were told they only had two hours to leave. One man told me he left with the clothes on his back and the only thing his wife brought was the family album. I see it before me and I can barely comprehend.
A favorite expression here is "to see with my eyes" - I am "seeing with my eyes" and feeling with my heart.
Date: Tue, 25 May 1999 08:42:18 +0200
From: Bobbie Lord
I have been asked to comment on a typical day. Let me describe yesterday for you. I went to the 8 AM UNHCR briefing, returned back to home/office - gave permission for one of the Albanian's to have 3 nights off to go to Tirana (approx 4 hour drive), organized the Korce workers and left for the camp. I took my computer there to work on the list of community leaders - names, cluster number and tent number so we could locate them - I finally got to that at 3:30.
We were having a pamper distribution, so we organized that. Then I learned that 2 tents had burned down, so I had to investigate that - fortunately, they were empty tents and nobody got hurt. A secret service policeman arrived and was looking for a refugee, who is reported to be a spy. He was in camp the other day with no identification, so we would not let him in and escorted him to the gate. I have no idea how to tell if someone is legitimate or not - in the meantime, while all that was going on, the UNHCR helicopter arrived with the head of office, Gerard Fayoux, with more blankets to be unloaded. Jeff Farr, Finance and Admin. for RI, located in Los Angeles, is here helping to set up the office. I asked him to deal with the SS guy while I went to the NATO area and asked for help. We cannot allow anyone walking through the camp. Anyway, a Major came and determined the guy was legitimate, so he now has free access (in secret) to walk around the camp. We did not have the name of the person he was looking for registered in the camp.
A German delegation arrived (they built the camp and now the second camp, Drenova, will be managed by RI). I had to organize chairs to be sent there. Refugees come to the compound all day, needing something - so that had to be dealt with.
Sunday night approximately one half of the bread that was delivered was filled with insects - luckily we did not have a riot, like before. We had to organized WFP, CARE, the food committee leaders, to sit and discuss then we made a trip to the bakery - it was so disgustingly filthy. The baker called the inspectors and so they arrived at the camp, inspected the bread, again finding insects, because it was the same bread that had been previously delivered. I had to go to them just as I was finishing a meeting with the CSM (Camp Self Management) board. They were going to give us a fine and we were to sign a paper. I thanked them for coming to inspect the bread and seeing for themselves what had been delivered. I laid it on a bit thick I think, and asked them to meet with CARE, WFP and UNHCR along with us. We are only the recipients of the bread and I thought all parties involved should get together. They went away smiling, saying they were going to look at the bakery (I told them how unclean it was) and then we would all get together and we didn't have to pay a fine or sign any papers!!! :-)
Drop ins: The EU has some kind of group that watches everything to ensure that all is okay. They drop in every other day for updates - they are most interested in the KLA activity, so it takes time to meet with them.
Children's something or other dropped in to say they had a portable pressurized shower unit and could shower 400 people in one day. That is not practicle here as we have too many people.
UNCHR dropped in to introduced me to the legal officer from Tirana - he wanted to talk about security - I was called away on another issue and totally forgot him, when I remembered him, he had left.
Two women from Dorkas agreed to come to help sort out clothes, - we have no adult diapers and need them. They said they would try to get us some. I started them working with the volunteers. Finally I had 15 minutes to work on the committee list.
Had staff meeting (Joanna, Marci and myself) - there has been some reorganization and it has created some tension, so I suggested we all meet at 3:45 each day to brief each other on what we are doing. Our 4 PM meeting did not happen as word came that the Prime Minister/KLA leader of Kosovo and the Vice Prime Minister of Albania were due to arrive at 4:30. They were late, but the crowd went wild. We were literally pushed along by the crowd. Thank goodness for our radios as I got separated from everyone. They left just in time for us to go to the NGO coordination meeting at 6 PM. We did not return home until 8 - very tired and hungry. Due to the Ministers arrival, the 5 PM NATO meeting was cancelled.
There is no typical day. Each day brings new challenges - today when I meet with the CSM board, I will find out how they organized a fire brigade. There are so many issues to be dealt with- We are expecting 100 refugees from Macedonia today.
I did receive a request to reunite an eight year old girl, who is in a camp in Macedonia, with her family who is here in Korce. I cannot imagine Chelsea, my 8 year old granddaughter, being separated from Will and Kathy and living in another country. I gave in information to Gerard and he said he would get her here.
That was my day yesterday. I have told everyone we work with that each day we have to have fun - and we do manage.
I have been asked about shipping items to us here. I have yet to find out the best way to do that. When I get information I will pass it along.
Much love to all,
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 20:56:09 +0200
To: "Edith M. Donohue"
From: Bobbie Lord
Thought I would answer your questions as best I can.
> Do you think this hostility will be resolved before the winter?
There is a plan for winterizing some 30 government buildings here in Korce to accommodate the 60,000 (anticipated) refugees in this area. Several NGO's will be working in this area and the Prefect (local government) will release the buildings to be used. This indicates to me that the refugees will not be able to return to Kosovo by winter even if there is a settlement. We are told the buildings have to be completed by mid Sept. as it gets cold here by then and the refugees will not be able to stay in tents.
As of today 150,000 refugees are on the move leaving Kosovo and heading to the Macedonian border. 18,000 refugees arrived in "no man's land" between the border of Kosovo and Macedonia yesterday which totals 30,000 in no man's land. Macedonia has closed the border and will not allow any more refugees in Macedonia. That with the 150,000 that is expected to arrive in that area will create a huge mess. We are on 24 hour alert to receive refugees - it is now estimated 400/day will arrive over the next 10 days. This is putting a strain here as the additional 5 camps have not yet been completed.
> Is Milosovich backing down at all?
I have no idea. You probably hear more than I do as I really have no time to listen to the news. Yesterday I worked from 8 AM to midnight - today I am exhausted.
> What are the towns going to be like when this is all over?
I have heard that it will take 2 years to build Kosovo back up so the refugees will be here for a minimum of 2 years. That is probably a realistic time frame, even if the war is over.
>What will the refugees be finding when they >return?
It sounds as if all utilities, roads and bridges will be destroyed. Lots of businesses gone.
We expect to receive another 1200 - 1500 refugees in Qatrom - many of the empty tents have been destroyed by the refugees taking the tent poles and ropes - we have 50 that have not been erected and will wait until we are sure of the headcount. We will not be able to accommodate all the refugees we expected because of this sad fact.
Wishing you well,
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 07:41:52 +0200
From: Bobbie Lord
Yesterday was a day of challenges - I guess every day is, but yesterday seemed to be more - or maybe it was because I was so tired. Working from 8 AM to midnight is getting a bit old. Last night I went to bed at 10 and I feel much better today.
The community leader is a pain - and "demands" everything. He told me that all NGO's were to deal with him directly and not go through us. He demanded that a contractual agreement had to be made between the Albanian government and the Korosvo government in Tirana regarding schooling for the Kosovar children - he did not trust the local government and it goes on and on. I simply cannot deal with him. He dominates the meetings and doesn't let others speak. When we get a full camp, I will ask for reelections - I really don't know how to get this guy out of that position. He was the one that incited the bread agitation instead of controlling the crowd and when asked to control the crowd, he flatly refused. I have asked that two refugees act as security to monitor one of the entrance gates and he refuses saying that they have to be paid. We do not pay the refugees who work for us. He takes up too much of my time and energy - sure wish I knew what do.
A baby was born the other day. The mother had an "operation", whatever that means, but I think ceasarean. Her daughter had been to the compound each day requesting a baby bed, clothes, pampers, baby bottles, etc. We do not have newborn pampers, I found some baby clothes and a blanket and those were given to her. The next day the daughter said she didn't get any. I have asked another NGO, Dorkas, if they had a baby bed and they said they would give us one - it hasn't come yet. Yesterday, the daughter came to the compound and requested a burner to heat the water/formula for the baby - the mother is having difficulty nursing apparently - I said we did not have any, so she wanted us to tap into the main power source and run a power line to her tent. They really expect the impossible. All this was running through my brain and I finally thought that perhaps the Salvation Army could heat water to make it sterile and then the babies who needed sterile water could collect it in the jerry cans. Three of us came up with the idea to give MDM (medical) a cooker with fuel and a pot, where they could sterilize the water and give it to the mother's who needed it. MDM agreed. The mother was not satisfied with that and wants MDM to heat the water every 3 hours for feeding. It gets too much some times. We all felt this was a wonderful solution - but...
Today there are 14 journalists from all over the world to interview us, both TV and radio - so Marci and I will be doing the interviews together. Yesterday, I was interviewed by the BBC radio. One of our Albanian staff was a friend of hers and after the interview she told him she could see why he is staying with us to do this work instead of being a journalist. Nice compliment for us and the work.
Today there is a football tournament with the children. I have been asked to come up with some prizes - I think I have the reputation of being a miracle worker, because I located the microphones, amplifier and stage for their concert last week. I also was given books to learn English. We are going to look into a box of toys to try to find something.
The children are going to have an art exhibit on Friday. We are going to have a classical music concert, provided by some Americans who have been living here for the past 4 years so some things are coming together. I was told by the community leader that we had to provide security if there was a concert. I asked him what he meant and he said there was some fighting going on at the last one. I asked who was fighting and he said some of the refugee boys - I asked him where in the world little boys didn't fight? It is up to them to control their children.
Off to a busy day. We are still expecting 400 refugees to come here in the later part of the afternoon or maybe this evening.
Love to all,
PS: Much more has happened - the stealing continues to be a big problem.
Date: Sat, 29 May 1999 06:37:12 +0200
From: Bobbie Lord
Here is some information given by Ron Capp from the US State Dept. His team is collecting evidence for the war crime tribunal. I understand that Milosevic has been charged with war crimes.
One of the reasons refugees are not coming to Albania and prefer to stay in Macedonia is that in Macedonia refugees can go to other countries. Albania does not allow resettlement to other countries - although I understand they are working on it. I do not know the "they" or how the process developes - it has to do with governments. No refugee in Albania at this point can apply for visas to other countries through the embassies.
We had approximately 100 refugees arrive yesterday. There were several single men in the group. This is a great concern to us as rape is so common in refugee camps. Today, I will again meet with the women's committee to discuss what to do. They will provide me with a list of all women who are alone and where their tents are located. We have heard that there is sex going on in some of the unused tents and most of it is being promoted by the Albanian police - this is no surprise, it happens elsewhere. Some of the RI men, went out there last night after I told them this - since no one is up but me I don't know the outcome. The women have yet to find some men they can trust to patrol the area. We have just set up a security committee and I will meet with them so see what they have in mind.
About 3 days ago we had two tents catch on fire. Fortunately they were unused tents and no one was hurt. I will be doing a mock frie drill training this morning, so everyone in the cluster will know what to do in case of fire. We are ordering fire extinguishers, buckets for sand and water and hoses, but until they get here, we will have to make do with what we have. Apparently the tent burned very quickly and as the summer approaches, it will be drier and drier. The dust now is terrible - everyone is coughing and getting stuffy noses. When it rains, the mud is bad. Once one cluster is trained, then all the other clusters will be trained and we will hold periodic fire drills. Candles are used in the tents and many of the refugees have small gas burners - this is extremely dangerous, but we cannot stop them. Also some are tapping into the main power supply for electrical appliances or whatever. Korce has a very antiquated power plant - there are many dips and power shortages and the power to the camp is very limited. If too many of them do it, there will be no electricity. Right now there are lights that surround the camp and that is the only source of lighting there is.
I spoke with the committee yesterday about their traditions regarding death. What preparations needed to be made. It was very interesting as most of the refugees are Muslim - from the legal process the police needs to be notified along with the health department so a death certificate could be issued. The Prefect has given some land for burial - I could not understand the burial process as my interpreter was not that good. It has something to do with slanted boards. Traditionally, the body is washed and then wrapped in a white sheet, which can only be obtained from a mosque. I will ask to have that item in the budget so we can purchase some. They all seemed so grateful. Apparently, they will stay with the body for 24 hours prior to burial. To me it is so important for them to be able to have their traditions honored.
Tomorrow is Sunday and we have decided to have a skeleton crew in camp, which means most of us will have free time. I will take the first shift because I want to take the 31st off. I always like to have some quiet time on Kristopher's birthday. I think I will go around Korce with my camera, something I have wanted to do since I have been here and have had no time. This will be my first day off since I left on 4 May.
The children's art exhibit was very powerful and moving. Innocense is lost - many of the drawings were of bombs, tanks, buring buildings, gun, KLA, death - hard to imagine this is what 6 - 14 year olds know. I had all of our staff, including the young Albanians that work with us, there were no dry eyes. It is wonderful for me to see how moved these university students were - to be so touched by human suffering.
I wish each and everyone of you would be able to spend some time with me. I am afraid my words do not paint an accurate picture. So many tell me they just want to do home. Now the rumor is they will be able to go home in one month. I don't know what to say.
Sending love to all,
Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP) Date: 25 May 1999 Kosovar refugee total nears 958,000 GENEVA, May 25 (AFP) - An estimated 957,913 ethnic Albanians have fled Kosovo since the start of the crisis nearly 15 months ago, according to figures released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday. Around 771,900 of these left Kosovo after the start of NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia on March 24 and are in Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia, the UNHCR said. A further 62,013 Kosovar refugees have left Macedonia by plane for third countries, it noted. Another 124,000 Kosovars sought refuge in other countries, notably in Europe, before March 24. The refugees are in: ALBANIA: About 439,500 refugees, staying in camps and with host families. MACEDONIA: About 246,700, including 96,300 in camps and 120,432 with host families. MONTENEGRO: 64,200 refugees. SERBIA: Official figures from Belgrade indicate 60,000 Kosovar refugees inside Serbia proper. The figure is unconfirmed by the UNHCR. BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA: 21,500 refugees from Kosovo. Sarajevo has also counted 21,000 Moslems from Sandjak and 30,750 Serbs, Croats and Montenegrins from Yugoslavia. More than 186,000 Kosovo refugees have been taken in by other countries: 124,000 left the region before March 24 and 62,013 have been evacuated from Macedonia to countries including: Germany (12,627), Turkey (7,475), Canada (4,919), Norway (4,941), the United States (3,851), France (3,717), Austria (3,388), the Netherlands (2,594), Italy (3,758), Sweden (2,133) and Australia (1,627). The UNHCR has no figure to indicate how many Kosovars have been displaced within Kosovo. tjf/mec AFP Copyright (c) 1999 Agence France-Presse Received by NewsEdge Insight: 05/25/1999 05:37:04 ReliefWeb
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Date: 25 May 1999 UNHCR Kosovo Crisis Update: 25 May 1999 AT A GLANCE Around 10,000 Kosovars flee into Albania and the FYR of Macedonia on 24 May. The figure includes nearly 1,500 refugees who went to Albania and more than 8,500 to the FYR of Macedonia. Despite continuing tensions in the border region, several hundred Kosovars manage to cross into Montenegro from Kosovo. Departures under the humanitarian evacuation program on Monday totaled 1,142, bringing the overall count to date to more than 62,000. An estimated 772,000 refugees and displaced people are in the region, including 64,200 in Montenegro, 246,700 in the FYR of Macedonia, 439,500 in Albania and 21,500 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Major Developments ALBANIA On Monday, more than 1,400 refugees arrived at the Morini border crossing, including a further 216 released prisoners from Smrekrovnica prison in Kosovska Mitrovica in northern Kosovo. As the refugees were coming in, two shots were fired across the border, the bullets coming close to UNHCR staff on duty. Monday's arrivals brought to 6,000 the number of Kosovars who had entered Albania over the past four days. Before that, the influx had slowed to a trickle for a week. Meanwhile, the organized relocation of refugees from temporary camps in Kukes to southern Albania using NATO vehicles started Tuesday morning. Eighty five refugees - part of the 200 planned to be moved during the day - were transported in the morning on 10 NATO trucks to Camp Hope, a few kilometers from Fier in southern Albania. The trip takes seven to nine hours. Camp Hope, built by the American military, will eventually have a capacity of some 20,000 refugees. It currently holds 3,000 refugees. On Sunday, about 1,900 refugees were transported on 40 buses and seven trucks and tractor-wagons to the south from Kukes. As the influx into Albania goes on, construction of tented camps and communal shelters continues. There are now 49 tented camps in 12 prefectures in Albania, including 16 which have been completed and 33 which are still under construction. In addition, 287 communal centers have been registered, of which 128 are now occupied and the rest are in various stages of completion. Of the 440,000 refugees in Albania, more than 81,000 are in tented camps and around 73,000 are in communal centers - sport centers, schools and public buildings. The rest of the refugees - more than a quarter of a million people - are staying with host families. As facilities operated on a bilateral basis are being handed over to UNHCR, its staff are attempting to provide a sustainable standard of assistance in all the camps and refugee centers. Over the past week, UNHCR has signed six agreements worth $3 million to accelerate response to emergency needs. So far, 31 projects are in place, covering distribution of basic and complementary food and such items as blankets, mattresses, sleeping bags, jerry cans and plastic sheets. Other projects include improvement of water, sanitation and health services. UNHCR has started the first distribution of the new standard food basket in the camps and collective centers. New agreements with bakeries have been signed for bread production. The Red Cross is gradually taking over food distribution to refugees in host families. UNHCR is also making efforts to coordinate other assistance to host families, including a "cash for shelter program" by the Swiss government initially for 6,500 families. Planning for winterization continues. A team of Albanian engineers has assessed potential collective buildings that could house 20,000 refugees during winter. FYR of MACEDONIA Two trains and 13 buses offloaded more than 8,500 refugees at the FYR of Macedonia border on Monday. After some delays, police agreed to move refugees from the border and the Blace holding area to camps. The majority of the arrivals were transported to the Stenkovec and Cegrane camps and the rest remained at the holding area. Registration of the arrivals went very quickly, witnessed during the evening by visiting British and American delegations and the FYR of Macedonia Minister of Interior, along with UNHCR staff. The refugees came mostly from Pristina, Urosevac and Vitina. They said Serbian forces were conducting a systematic "ethnic cleansing" operation in these areas. Many said they originally came from Podujevo, the strategic town along the Pristina-Belgrade road, and they claimed massacres have taken place in their villages. Yugoslav troops have been conducting an offensive against the Kosovo Liberation Army in the Podujevo region since December of last year. Thousands more refugees were reported to be on the Serbian side of the border, waiting to cross into the FYR of Macedonia. Many others are reported to be heading towards the frontier from the interior of Kosovo. UNHCR staff and government officials braced for another massive wave of arrivals on Tuesday. MONTENEGRO Although more than 200 displaced Kosovars managed to cross into Montenegro on 21/22 May, there were virtually no arrivals on the 23rd. No information is available yet concerning any border crossings on 24 May. Those who came in over the weekend were from villages in Istok. They said they left their homes in late March before the NATO bombing campaign and went to the nearby mountains, staying in shepherds' shelters. But in mid-May, military reservists surrounded the area, seized food reserves and questioned the men. The men were later released and the displaced people were trucked by the military to Rozaje. UNHCR and UNICEF met with Kosovar teachers and the director of the Dekor factory in Rozaje to discuss possible sites for school tents. The factory has offered land where a school could be set up. UNHCR/IOM HUMANITARIAN EVACUATION PROGRAM A total of 1,142 refugees left from the FYR of Macedonia under the humanitarian evacuation program on Monday May 24. They went to Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. So far, more than 62,000 refugees have departed under the program in which UNHCR has received offers for 135,000 places in 39 countries.
Date: Sun, 30 May 1999 20:08:39 +0200
From: Bobbie Lord
Yesterday I had a very moving experience - the son of one of the cluster leaders joined the KLA 3 months ago and was killed in action. It is customary for people to visit the bereaved family, so Elton and I went to pay our respects. I did not know what family member had been killed, until I arrived at the tent and the father told me it was his 18 year old son who had been killed. His wife, lost not only her son, but also her 17 year old brother. I embraced them both and the wife broke down while I held her in my arms. We were invited into the tent where they showed me a recent photo of the two boys - the photo was taken 3 weeks before their deaths and they were looking very proud in the KLA uniform. We were offered something to drink and a piece of candy - apparently, it is customary to eat and drink something. I wept with the mother and the father said he could not cry as his son died defending his country. They have 3 other children, a girl about 14, a son about 10 and a 3 month old girl. The man was a TV/electronics professional until the Serbs refused to let him work. He then became a carpenter. Others came to pay their respect also.
Last night about 9:30 a grenade went off. This is the third time it has happened. Marci, Joanna and I jumped from the sound of the explosion and went to the upstairs balcony to look out. The police responded very quickly and it was very near our house. Within the last week there have been 3 incidents of shooting - apparently they are grudge/gang related incidents. We have been told the attacks will not be directed towards any relief workers, but we should not be walking the streets at night because we might get caught in the crossfire. So we are careful. Last night it was a bit disconcerting as it was very close to our house - just around the corner. Today, however, I did not see any evidence of damage.
Stealing continues to be a problem in the camp. Storage is a big problem as we have very few transport containers which can be locked. I will distribute as much as possible this week to get the materials out of the compound - it makes no sense to me to keep it and not distribute it - there are kitchen sets - none of the refugees have utensils to eat with as the Salvation Army provides all the meals. Gas cookers were donated by the Germans so the refugees could do cluster cooking. We do not have enough cookers to distribute to each cluster - more are on order, but at a meeting last week the refugees did not want to do cluster cooking - they wanted to do cooking in one big tent. We will have another meeting on Tuesday with the food committee and Salvation Army to discuss further.
We are planning to do "water tap" gardens. We will get seeds and garden implements and the refugees can plant vegetables around the water taps for supplemental food and/or income generation. It has worked elsewhere and we are going to try it here. We need to do it quickly because Korce has a very short growing season. I have heard that the refugees will have to be out of the camps by mid Sept. as it will be too cold for them to stay there. If that happens, I don't know what will happen to our refugees, or if we will continue to mangage in a winterized building or not. I guess I should bring up the question at some point. I don't know if I would come home then or stay on. Time will tell.
I will have my first day off tomorrow - I am looking forward to it - I will take my camera and walk around town and take some photos.
Sending love to all of you. I think of you often and appreciate all the
mail you send me.
Date: Sun, 30 May 1999 21:31:37 +0200
From: Bobbie Lord
The saga of the bread continues. In addition to the below story, we had another incident 2 days ago. WFP/CARE has switched bakeries and the last batch of bread made by the old baker was bad, moldy bread. I must admit that WFP/CARE did respond quickly, but this is getting to be a problem. Bread is the main staple of the Kosovar people and it has been messed up several times - no good and I really don't want a riot on my hands!!!! The bread is being made by 2 women owned bakeries and is made by solar baking - not what I think of as solar baking, but burned and the residue of the fuel coats the bread, making it look dirty - well, this is less than appealing to look at and I really would not want to eat it. Apparently, the Albanian people are used to this type of cooking but the Kosovar people are not. The Turkish bakery to be in Qatrom (the "Q" is pronounced "ch") is on hold until the large influx of refugees gets here because no one wants the local economy to suffer. There is nothing simple in this process because everything impacts something.
WFP considers that a serious incident occurred yesterday, with a large delivery to Qatrom of insect-infested and gummy bread, yellow in color and with mold and dirt. Out of 1400 loaves, about 700 were highly infested. Out of the WFP stores, there was NO EVIDENCE of infestation. The kitchen was also inspected. CARE has identified another baker to carry on the baking. The tri-partite contractual arrangement between UNHCR, WFP/CARE, and the former baker appears to have been seriously compromised. Relief International acted in a very rapid way, and the issue was resolved to the satisfaction of the Kosovars. They inspected the WFP supplies and expressed approval, but they do not want to continue receiving bread from that bakery. CARE visited three other large industrial bakeries in Korcha city with a high degree of cleanliness. Currently there is still a capacity to handle a greater influx of refugees.
Relief International has been chosen to manage the Drenova camp and we were in direct competition with CARE for the management of the Fish Farm - CARE has been awarded the camp management of the Fish Farm. I think we have all that we can handle. Apparently, there is disagreement regarding the way the German NATO forces built the Drenova camp and now GDZed, a German NGO, will have to redo it prior to refugees coming there.
We continue to wait for the influx - it is only coming in slowly and on a voluntary basis. The reason is that no refugees can resettle in any other country from Albania. Albania has a lottery system for people to resettle in other countries and the refugee situation would alter that. I think the Albanian government is working on this with other countries so as to not have it affect their number and allow the Kosovar refugees to go elsewhere. If this happens, I am sure there will be a flood here.
The NATO forces will pull out sometime this week, probably on Friday. I think it will have an impact on all of us. Somehow their presence has kept things a bit quiet.
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 07:06:44 +0200
To: [list suppressed]
From: Bobbie Lord
Sorry I have been so long getting back to you regarding sending things to the refugees here. Apparently, it is difficult and the office in Tirana is not interested in the hassle. With customs and duties it will be difficult to receive anything, so I thank you for your kind offers. I think the best thing, if anyone would be interested is to send money to the RI office in Los Angeles and ask that it be designated to Qatrom Camp in Korce. We still need baseball caps and sunscreen and they could be purchased here or in Tirana. This is a thought if anyone is so inclined.
The address for Relief International is:
11965 Venice Blvd., Suite 405
We are hearing talks of a peace settlement. I pray for this to happen. All the refugees here want to go home. I spoke with a man yesterday, the brother of the coordinator of the children's activites. He had left Kosovo 3 days earlier and arrived in the camp on Wed. He told me he saw 300 dead with his own eyes. He has just been reunited with his family. He said there are still buildings in Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, but the villages are destroyed - with most of the houses burned to the ground. There are approximately 2,000,000 in Kosovo and he said about 1,000,000 have left. He also said the Serb troops are staying in abandoned houses - forced abandoment - consequently having the NATO bombings no longer effective. It is his opinion that the NATO forces are not effective now. I was unable to get his opinion as to what he felt should happen, as the conversation turned to bread and smoking cigarettes.
The questions here are what should be done about the winterization of the 40 government buildings that the Prefecture has designated for the refugees during the winter months. If there is peace and the refugees can return to Kosovo, then the buildings should not be renovated. Of course the government here would love to have the buildings renovated as it would be beneficial for them once the refugees left. On the other hand, the cost of renovation is very large and each NGO would bare the cost - so what to do? The decision cannot be held off too long, as winter and cold weather come soon - around mid Sept. Another issue is whether or not the refugees could return soon to rebuild Kosovo - where would they live during the rebuilding stage? Could we (RI) establish tent camps while rebuilding went on? I personally would love to be there doing that - to see them all in their homeland and rebuilding - it would be an exciting part of the process. So many decisions must be made and they all hinge on each other.
The NATO troops who have been staying with us leave our camp on Sunday and there will be a party. They have been staying on our camp grounds - so I believe the plan for the space will be a parking lot. More refugees are due in today - 3 bus loads.
Date: Mon, 07 Jun 1999 07:26:19 +0200
From: Bobbie Lord
Sorry for not writing sooner - it has been very busy. We had more refugees arrive from Macedonia the other day and a 16 year old boy got off the bus and saw his mother in the crowd, without knowing she was here in Qatrom. His emotions exploded with disbelief, joy, elation and amazement. This is what this work is about - knowing that families can be reunited after all the hardships, pain and suffering that has been endured. It was amazing to witness and no words can adequately discribe the event. There was not a dry eye in the registration area - everyone was so filled with emotion. Seeing this makes all the frustrations and hard work worth it. I feel so blessed to be a part of this.
Yesterday was also amazing. We had a clothes distribution and decided to let the community leaders do it - well, the community tent was mobbed and bedlum broke out. (Now the leaders know what it feels like). It is difficult to describe - just a mass of people storming the tent, cutting through the screens to get at the clothes. One of the community leaders said she had never seen anything like it and almost quit. Luckily for us she decided to stay on. I was called on the radio (we all have radios for communication) - I took a bull horn, called the security committee and asked a driver to take me there, because I was going to remove all the clothes. The bull horn worked and the crowd subsided. As everything was calming down, I received a radio message that a peace agreement had been signed and the war was over. I announced that the WAR WAS OVER - everyone stopped what they were doing and grabbed another person hugged and kissed and danced for joy. The security leader grabbed the bull horn and went around camp announcing the news. I was embraced by so many people, everyone thanking me, us, NATO, the US for all we have done. It was so emotionally exhiliatrating, women, whom I have never seen, ran from their tents to embrace me, thank me and asked God to always watch over me. After returning to the compound, 10 leaders came to invite me to have a coffee with them as it was the traditional way to celebrate. The jubilation continued for a long time, although there was some skepticism.
I learned 2 hours later the information was not accurate and that the peace talks were still going on. This was devastating news for me.
Then 2 bus loads of refugees arrived from Macedonia - 87 in total - all men expect for 2 women. The all refused to get off the bus, allowing only 4 spokesmen to get off the bus. They wanted to go to Tirana ( 4 - 4.5 hours away) and would not get off the bus until UNHCR agreed to take them there. UNHCR would not transport them to Tirana - a great debate ensued - finally agreement was made to have RI try to get 2 buses to take them there. Fortunately we were successful and all got transport to Tirana, except for 6 men, who had been released from prison, were not in good shape, and wanted to go to Kukes. (The reason these men were so adament, is they were going to join the KLA, they did not want their names registered - apparently they had deserted and wanted to rejoin to avoid punishment now that the peace talks are going so well and a peace agreement is expected soon).
When I checked this morning all 6 men had left camp - I don't know how they got to Kukes because they said they had no money.
One of our security men, a newly formed committee, was sporting the KLA dress and cap. I told them they could not wear this in camp and it has been agreed that he won't. I will see tomorrow.
Marcels, one of our drivers, knows a famous singer from Albania and arranged to have a free concert in the camp. It went on for about an hour and everyone loved it. The KLA guy, sat down beside me, put his arm around me and someone took our picture.
The Albanian State TV came in this morning for an interview for the news either tonight or tomorrow. This took quite a bit of time - I am tired of these interviews.
There are 3 old men, all over 90 years old, who are desparate for shoes. I have been trying to get shoes for them. One dear man, comes each day to the compound and has for almost 2 weeks. It breaks my heart to tell him I do not have shoes. Yesterday someone gave me shoes, indicating they had the correct sizes in their warehouse. I was so excited to let the man know I had shoes - none of them fit as they were not the right size. I let him try on each pair of shoes - and he went away empty handed. Today he was at the gate again. I simply could not face him. A volunteer arrived yesterday and she said she would buy 3 pairs of shoes - bless her heart. When she arrived at the camp with the shoes we tried to find the man and could not as he gave us the wrong cluster and tent location. I will wait for him tomorrow.
A spontaneous concert withe the children started approximately at 6 PM yesterday, many of the songs and poems were performed that were performed at the concert a couple of weeks ago. The emphasis was freedom and the return home. I was brought into the center of the circle and in English, Relief International and NATO were thanked for all that we had done for them and asking that God watch over us always. It was so very touching.
One of the refugees drank too much and pulled a knife on another - the Albanian police were called and he spent the night in jail - everyday is exciting.
Friday night an American came to camp and set up a koraoki (sp) machine - the crowd went wild with it.
Things seem to be settling down and seeming to get into a return. I have been asked by so many refugees to return with the to Kosovo to help in the rebuilding process. God bless them all and I pray that I will be able to do this.
Sending love to all,
I know my emails are less frequent now - two points as NATO would say (I miss our daily briefings). Point one - there are more people using the email, so it is difficult to get on the only computer that has it. Point two - I am really busy and am taking more time in the morning to meditate.
I am fine. The bombings in Albania are occuring in Kukes, very north of me - it takes about 8 hours to get there from here, so we are in no danger here. The artilery fire is also occuring in that area.
I want to tell you about 2 miracles that happened today - at least in my eyes they were miracles. The refugees are desparate for laundry detergent. Our hygiene kits only contained 3 small bars of washing soap and they do not last long. I was called on the radio to meet the Polish Red Cross and talk to them about the camp. They had a television crew with them and I explained about the camp and then learned that they had 3 truck (semi) full of materials for Qatrom - first miracle, laundry detergent - I had the idea that it would be good to film the distribution of the laundry detergent as it was coming off the truck and going right to the refugees. This idea was seized upon and the second miracle, it was done in an orderly fashion, perfectly without a hitch and not like the clothes riot of Saturday. I was really taking quite a risk, but it worked to perfection.
Another miracle - a female ob/gyn Albanian came to camp last week and I set up a meeting with the medical, MDM, the female refugee committee and them along with the RI volunteer female psychiatrist that just arrived to work here. The meeting far exceeded any expectations, women arrived to discuss issues and there is such a need and it will all be addressed now. Alma will be here 2 afternoons per week and the rest of the time she will have her midwife in camp (5 days/week). Mindy, who is the volunteer psychiatrist, also had an intelligent, older woman come to be a translator, just what is needed when we deal with female issues. Many of the women are now coming forward and are willing to talk and say there is much need. How blessed we are - miracles are happening each day. Now if the biggest miracle of all will happen, to have a peace agreement and a safe return for all who are here.
I love you all and thank you for your continued support of me and this mission that I am on. I wish I could express my deep feelings for the work we are all doing here. I cannot begin to tell of today - only to say I had about ten things happening at once and I felt like everyone wanted a part of me - at times it is so overwhelming, I can hardly breathe. Also there are many times I have no answers - I simply do not know what to do - I try my best and I do know I am being cared for.
I am fine and will try to keep in touch more consistantly, I'll let you know if you have to worry.
Much love and God bless,
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 08:04:53 +0200
From: Bobbie Lord
I am up early to get onto the computer. We have more and more people coming in and out and I can barely get onto the computer. Some of these people come for just one night and the core group here does not know why they are here.
We received 5 bus loads of refugees yesterday - approximately 200 people - mostly men, young and in good condition. On Tuesday we received 94 refugees from Macedonia - by the next morning we had only 7 remaining in camp. In the last 2 weeks most of the refugees coming from Macedonia have been men and they all want to go to Tirana - the pretext is to join families, but the reality is to join the KLA. From what I have been able to understand many of these men were deserters and now want to join to KLA so they won't be punished. This has been happening since the peace talks became more serious.
There are probably more reasons than this for joining the KLA. The culture amongst these people is blood revenge, so I pray that peace is sustained. It is not only in the culture for the individual person to seek revenge, but also the entire family. We had an incident the other night, and there have been promises made to behave in the camp, but the revenge will take place when they return to Kosovo and they mean it. This is such a difficult thing for me to understand, but it certainly explains why the fighting continues for generations. You can all read between the lines.
I learned on Tuesday of an incident that occured on Monday night involving some teenagers, beer and loud music. The result, the newly formed refugee security committee became a little too agreesive and beat 3 of the teens - two being brothers named Mehani. Mr. Mehani pulled a knife on the Fatom, the security leader, and threatend to kill him. This all excelerated, with more threats - verbal and with knives and an ax, partial destruction of the tent where the security committee hung out, etc.
Fatom left camp but returned to speak with me. I involved UNHCR and asked for protection. The only thing that happened was that Fatom was interviewed. The community leaders disbanned the security committee and all agreed that the was to be NO violence in the camp. It was agreed that Francesco, who is working with RI as programs office from Italy, and I would go to talk with Mehani. The community leaders talked with Mehani for 3 hours on Tuesday evening and he only became more agressive and unyielding. I went to speak with Mehani along with Mindy, a psychiatrist from the US who has just joined us and Genti, the interpreter.
No sooner did we arrive, when Fatom was seen in the area. Mehani picked up a huge rock, hurled it at Fatom, striking him in the head, picked up another and then approximately 15 people jumped on Fatom and beat him - then 2 gun shots were heard - all right before my eyes - I didn't know if Fatom has been shot or what, but Mindy dragged me down behind the car - one person then ran out of the broken fence and into the field as the man with the gun chased him - I learned later that the man with the gun was a secret police man. I got Fatom into the car and took him to the medical tent. The end result of a very stressful time, with police, angry refugees and high tensions, Fatom was removed from camp and the Mehani family and another family who were relatives were removed from the camp. Tensions are lower somewhat, but until the Mehani family is removed to a distant camp, there will remain uneasiness.
We are fine - there is a lot more to tell, but I have to start my day with the UNHCR meeting.
Please NoteI received a phone call from Bobbie on Sat 13 June, and her computer has crashed and she is incommunicado for the forseeable future. Thus, this is her last message for a while. She will begin sending messages again once they are back online.
From: Bobbie Lord
Date: Sat, 19 Jun 1999 20:06:03 +0200
Just a word to let you know I am fine. After my last email our computer crashed and I have not had any email. Please do not worry everything is fine. The situation with the shooting has sorted itself out since the offenders left the camp. All seems quiet since the peace talks have been signed and the only concern of everyone is when they will go home.
The proposed plan from where I am in Korce is to have the NATO (French) AFOR to rebuild and extend the airstrip in Korce and airlift the refugees living in Tirana and south to repatriate through this area. This could mean as many as 200,000 refugees coming through here. All the camps, which have just been built to accommodate the refugees that are in Macedonia will be used as transit camps. It is felt that between 400 and 500 refugees can be airlifted per day. It is really a very viable plan especially since the route through Kukes is still very dangerous and still a bottleneck.
Many refugees want to leave now (you have probably heard reports of the refugees leaving Albania--they are crossing in Kukes). It is projected that it now will take 24 hours to travel from here to Kukes. We shall see how it works out. I am trying to convince everyone to stay here until the plan is firm - as of now there in NO entry into Macedonia and Macedonia will NOT open the borders until all 238,900 refugees are gone - that count was as of 17 June. Currently, there are 439,600 refugees in Albania - of course I understand 15,000 crossed the border from Kukes yesterday and more are on the move. It is really a fascinating time to be here - everyone is so wrapped up in everything. The bottleneck as I see it, is the slowness of UNHCR. They sent a team 5 weeks ago to register the refugees to give them official documents, and it still has not happened. I guess they will register them on the border and then deregister them.
The last several bus loads of refugees arriving from Macedonia to Qatrom camp have been mainly men - they stay one night at our camp and then they move on to Tirana or Durres (I would love to go to Durres as it is on the Agean Sea and looks beautiful from the photos I have seen) to join "family" - the real reason we suspect is to join the KLA - many apparently had deserted and now need to rejoin to avoid punishment - of course, there are many ramifications about beefing up the KLA, referred to here as UCK.
I pray that the KLA is not trying to get strong to start fighting again, but I believe this is a STRONG possibility. What do you think, Will? Sorry our phone call was cut off, I ran out of "pulses" on the phone card.
I am still very busy, and finally had another day off - the second one since leaving the US on 4 May. Time is funny here and it feels like I have been here for months and months - one of my collegues left on Tuesday and it feels like weeks ago. Today I was quite tired - low energy, even though I had a good night's sleep last night.
On Thursday afternoon, it rained very hard, even hailed, flooding much of the camp. We were called out at 9 PM to distribute more blankets and plastic as many of the tents were wet. We ended at 12:30 and then I had a message to call the Tirana office - I got to bed at 1 PM, awake at 6 AM to start the day. Each day is very busy and I am anything but bored.
Sending well wishes to all. I will be here until the camp closes and then probably for two weeks beyond that to clean up everything. I have been invited to go to Prishtine with the refugees who are in Qatrom. The Chairman of our community board has told me he will be on the last flight out of here and I will be by his side so we can rebuild Kosovo. I was moved to tears by this.
Thinking of all you. I will try to be in contact on a more regular basis and hopefully, our email will be fixed soon (I am sending this from an account in Korca).
Much love and God bless,
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 10:50:45 -0400
To: Bobbie Lord
From: "Will H. Moore"
At 08:06 PM 6/19/99 +0200, you wrote:
>The last several bus loads of refugees arriving from Macedonia to Qatrom >camp has been mainly men - they stay one night at our camp and then they >move on to Tirana or Durres (I would love to go to Durres as it is on >theAgian Sea and looks beautiful from the photos I have seen) to join >"family" - the real reason we suspect is to join the KLA - many apparently >had deserted and now need to rejoin to avoid punishment - of course, there >are many ramifications about beefing up the KLA, referred to here as UCK. > I pray that they are not trying to get strong to start fighting again, but >I believe this is a STRONG possibility. What do you think, Will?
WRT your question re: the KLA and disarmament. Charles Tilly (a Sociologist) argued that violence is highest during the consolidation of a state, not its collapse. I think he is generally right. That is, more people die during the competition to rebuild a new government than die in the fight to overthrow the old one. If Kosovo holds to form, then the killing starts now.
I suspect that b/c NATO is there, Kosovo's state building death toll will be lower than the war death toll, but it certainly won't be 0 (it already isn't). Journalists like to call this revenge killing, and there is certainly some of that, but I think most of it is (1) state building and (2) opportunism. The state building killing will be done by KLA personnel and any other groups that seek to compete with the KLA. Given the KLA's superior arms, my guess is that there won't be many (if any) groups challenging them militarily, though politicians will try to ally with NATO since NATO has serious fire power.
I think there are 2 main risks WRT competition to form the new government (i.e., state building). First, the KLA is likely to break into factions as various people compete to be the head of the military, the president of Kosovo, etc. Second, KLA factions that lose out in the early competition have an incentive to turn to guerrilla struggle against NATO if they believe the citizens of NATO countries have little patience for bloodshed. That is, how many soldiers are NATO countries willing to lose? To date we have 2 dead British soldiers, but if the KLA does break into factions, some of those factions will lose out in the jockeying, and there will likely be trouble if they remain armed. The key, obviously, is disarmament, and NATO is working on it, but it won't be easy.
WRT opportunism, this will be carried out by individual families and small groups who realize that the chances of being caught for stealing Serb possessions, etc, is low. Thus, as in riots in the US or murder in Medellin, Colombia, when it becomes clear to people that the chances of being caught for engaging in illegal activity is far lower than normal, you will find a small, but substantial, percentage of the population willing to steal, kill, etc.
So, I think NATO has quite a mess on its hands, and unlike the good ol days of post-WWII, there is a global media who are happy to report what is happening, and that constrains governments (in this case, NATO's) ability to 'impose order,' as it were. My best guess is that the next 3 weeks or so are critical. If NATO can send the message that one is likely to be caught and punished (a message that was definitely NOT sent in week 1), then opportunism can be squashed. If they can disarm KLA bands, then the state building competition can be done without bloodshed. Neither task is easy.
Will H. Moore Associate Professor 850/644-6924 (voice) Department of Political Science 850/644-1367 (fax) The Florida State Univeristy email@example.com Tallahassee, FL 32306-2230 http://garnet.acns.fsu.edu/~whmoore/
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 07:53:20 +0200
From: Bobbie Lord
I am in Tirana to work out a plan for phasing out the operation in Korce. I did not bring the addresses with me, so would you forward this to my "list".
What is happening. The refugees are so restless and want to go home. We have refugees leaving the camp every day and more from the villages come in, so only a total of 132 have left for Korsovo. AFOR, the French NATO is building the airstrip in Korce and will airlift the refugees in the Korce Prefecture to Prishtina or Kukes. As you know from the media 120,000 have already returned. UNHCR has been slow in making decisions and still as of yesterday, not made a final decision - the refugees will NOT wait, although we tell them it is not safe because of the land mines, unexploded bombs, etc. Apparently some of the RI staff has gone to Prizren to set up there with a doctor and all the refugees are in good shape and they are helping the Serbs who are secluded in a school. The Serbs are afraid of reprisals, but unfortunately, they are mostly the elderly. The UNHCR "Plan" is to have 7 zones in Korsovo, each a different color for a different region, then the refugees will wear a braclet or something with the same color and will be returned to that colored area when it is safe, so we are collecting information about which area the refugees are from. This hopefully will reduce the need to trace family members.
We have told the refugees in Qatrom they can take everything that was given them including the tents as they leave now. When the organized repatriation will occur, the tents will remain since other tents are already going to Kosovo. Apparently last night the RI staff was called into camp as some of the refugees were taking their tents and leaving and the guards tried to stop them. It will be a mess - who knows what is stealing and what is leaving. In Kukes everything that was in the warehouses, etc. was looted and theft is now on the rise everywhere.
I was called into Tirana by Farshad and sat around all afternoon waiting to get to speak with him. I really don't know why I am here, because what he has asked for could have been done from Korce. Also, I need to get information from Korce before I can leave. Funny, but I really feel out of my element here. Also last night I locked myself out on the balcony and had to wait until after midnight to have someone let me in. I provided a good laugh for everyone.
In camp we had a very good shoe distribution. Dorkas, a Christian NGO, who has been here for years, donated shoes for the children 10 and under, and organized the distribution along with the Salvation Army and us. We started at 11 AM and quit at 6 PM and had to distribute the rest yesterday. Since I was here, I learned that is was successful. Today we are supposed to be doing clothes for 6 and under, tomorrow, men's clothes. The ONLY way to distribute these items is to allow only one person in the tent at a time - it is long and arduous
Tomorrow we are having a person from Save the Children, come to camp to train the teachers on landmines, so they can teach the children. Then on Friday, Major Daniel Dequesne (French NATO) will plant "dummy" landmines in the field in front of the camp and we will bring between 40 - 50 people in at a time to have them know what to look for. This will go on until everyone is informed - also we may use this area to train other refugees in the Korce prefecture. We are all excited about this program.
I don't know if I told you about the Karioki (sp) we did at camp, but it was fun. There is an article in the New Yorker Magazine (14 June, I think), about Karioki in the Balkans in the section "Talk of the Town" - anyway, I was told I was mentioned in the article, although maybe not by name. I was coerced into singing, (I sang "Sentimental Journey" and dedicated it to their return home) and what I did not do with the voice, I made up for it by playing the crowd. It was fun and everyone had a great time.
Francesco, a volunteer from Italy, who set up the summer school and fought with the local government to keep the Kosovo teachers teaching and it was a fight, left on Monday. There was a party for him on Sunday at the camp - softdrinks and cake -4 refugees brought in the native musical instruments, a mandeline looking string instrument - and they played many songs, mostly of Kosovo. I asked if they could play any dance music so we could see the traditional dance. I was shown how to do the dance and many joined in. It was quite a festive occasion.
Friday, Clowns without Borders is due to come to the camp. Apparently they are wonderful and will set up a trapeze, have clowns and all kinds of entertainment for the children. It should be fun. They were here about a month ago, taking photographs and looking at the area, so they could set up.
Gail, please have your friend call Relief International in LA 310 572-7770 about doing volunteer work. Otherwise she could call World Relief and look on the internet esp. Interaction, for information.
I have to start my report now so I had better close. I have no idea how long the refugees will remain here, although it is expected that 15% will remain, so all will have to be consolidated into one area and then will have to be in a winterized building.
I am anxious to learn how many have left and what the tent situation is like.
I love you all - I really feel out of touch without email - it does make it a little tougher on the emotional side.
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 18:38:07 +0200
From: Bobbie Lord
Hi Will, can you distribute this for me? Thanks. The last two weeks have been jammed full of activities, plus it is difficult to go to Mission East to email. RI still has not fixed ours yet.
The big news - all of our refugees have returned to Kosovo - such a bitter/sweet experience - many tears for the loss of many wonderful friends. The last refugees left on 7 June 99.
I am fine - just a quickie to let you know. I have so much to write, but will have to tell you in person. We have had to patrol all night long for the past week and a half or may be two - time is funny - do to refugees leaving and the security being more and more of a problem. We are all bone tired. Now we are busy securing all of the materials - moving things from the rub halls (plastic) into containers or warehouses. We start at 5 AM and finish the day, have dinner and then patrol.
I just heard today that we will be closing the Korce office on 15 July - so it looks like I will be home sooner than expected, unless I decide to take a trip to Greece - will try to get someone to go with me. I don't travel well alone.
Thinking of all of you and sending love.
This page is updated by Will H. Moore,
Associate Professor of Political Science, The Florida State University.
He is Bobbie Lord's son. Mark Crook helped with page design.