Kosovo Peace Shifts Army Focus
The signing of the peace brings new challenges to The Salvation Army’s relief work in Albania, where Army staff and volunteers have been feeding and housing thousands of Kosovo refugees for the past two months. Refugees are now beginning to return to their homes.
“It is only a few days since the announcement of a peace deal was made,” said Captain Cedric Hills, Albania relief program director. “Little first-hand knowledge is available of the true situation within Kosavo.”
Hills noted the Army has wide experience in providing a multi-disciplined relief and rehabilitation program in similar situations, most recently in Sipovo (Republic of Serpska) from April 1996 through the spring of 1999.There, it assisted in rebuilding homes and revitalizing the economic base through the distribution of small business loans provided primarily by international funding.
“The Salvation Army has the personnel resources, skills and experience to create a holistic development program. Our close contact with the Kosovo people has revealed they are keen to rebuild their communities.
We would like the opportunity to work alongside, offering whatever support and assistance possible to make their hopes a reality.”
Those opportunities for assistance include: Deployment of mobile canteens and support vehicles to follow the refugees on their journey back home, providing drinks and refreshments; and establishing feeding kitchens in local communities until cooking facilities are restored.
In addition, the Army is positioned to identify a community in which it could implement a multi-disciplined program of support and development, ideally a town with a population of 12,000-14,000. “We are aware that the village of Kamaran had a population of 15,000, but has suffered considerable damage to property and infrastructure,” said Hills. “The village is situated in the central region of Kosovo, on a main thoroughfare and with a nearby airport.”