Kosovar doctor helps refugees one at a time
April 15, 1999
From Medical Correspondent Eileen O'Connor
ELBASIN, Albania (CNN) -- Dr. Uci Gjonblaj is making house calls on his fellow Kosovars but not in his hometown Pristina. These days he is visiting them in refugee camps in Albania.
Over three weeks after the crisis began, he found it difficult to even find his countrymen. They were scattered throughout the mountainous country.
However once he located the refugees, Gjonblaj and his nurses quickly established a makeshift clinic along with the International Medical Corps, who brought a battery of donated drugs.
Many of their patients are babies and children with fever and diarrhea. Gjonblaj said they are worried most about the possibility of epidemics, upper respiratory diseases (particularly among children), and a lack of drugs.
The women, children, and elderly who line up to see the doctor are surprised, but grateful, to hear he speaks their dialect.
Gjonblaj and other doctors in Albanian refugee camps believe it is the psychological trauma the refugees have suffered that is the hardest to treat, and could pose the biggest problems in the future. Doctors say a major part of the healing process for Kosovar refugees in Albania is knowing someone is there, caring for them with a soothing word or smile.
As he makes his rounds, Gjonblaj says it isn't their diseases and their living conditions, but their tales of horrors that will haunt him.
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United Nations High Commission for Refugees
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