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World - Europe

Pristina residents weary of war, wary of peace

Nearly empty roads and bomb-riddled buildings dominate the scene in Pristina

What both sides must do now

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In this story:

City scarred by bombings, looting

Serbs worried about return of refugees


June 9, 1999
Web posted at: 12:10 p.m. EDT (1610 GMT)

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- As Yugoslavia and NATO finalize a plan that will end hostilities, the people of Kosovo's capital, Pristina, are weary and full of apprehension.

Nine weeks after ethnic Albanians started flooding out of Pristina and NATO warplanes added it to their target list, the battered city's residents yearn for peace but fear the changes that will accompany it.

"For two months we've been living in a jail," a retiree told CNN's Jim Clancy. "We can't go out, we have to run away, our children have to hide."

With a peace deal within sight, Yugoslav officials on Tuesday allowed international journalists into Pristina for the first time since hostilities -- and the large-scale expulsion of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians -- began in late March.

City scarred by bombings, looting

While the city hasn't seen the kind of wholesale destruction that occurred in Bosnia-Herzegovina during that country's war, Clancy reports, many buildings that NATO judged to be legitimate targets have been gutted by the alliance's bombs.

Throughout Pristina, windows in homes and shops are shattered, either by the force of explosions or by looters. Authorities said they had arrested 800 people, mostly Serbs, in looting incidents that targeted Serb and ethnic Albanian shops, as well as apartments.

On the streets, the impact of the exodus of tens of thousands of the city's ethnic Albanians is clear.

Serbs worried about return of refugees

The prospect of a mass return of those residents, and the corresponding departure of Yugoslav security forces, helps fuel residents' apprehension.

"They fled once NATO started bombing," one Pristina resident said, echoing the official Yugoslav position that it was alliance bombs, not a policy of forced expulsions, that led the vast majority of the province's ethnic Albanians to flee into exile.

"It should be possible for Serbs to live alongside the ethnic Albanians once again, if the conditions are right," he said.

The simple question for many of Pristina's Serb residents is whether they should remain in Kosovo as it returns to its previous status of having a majority ethnic Albanian population, or whether they should move north into the Serb- dominated part of Serbia.

Many fear that if they go into Serbia proper, with its economy in ruins from years of U.N. sanctions and weeks of NATO pounding, they will end up homeless and jobless, becoming refugees in their own country.

Correspondent Jim Clancy contributed to this report.

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Talks between NATO, Yugoslavia fall apart
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Yugoslavs balk at signing Kosovo withdrawal agreement
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NATO, Yugoslav generals take a break; no resolution in sight
June 6, 1999
NATO, Yugoslavs to discuss terms for troop withdrawal Sunday
June 5, 1999
NATO: Bombing of Yugoslavia could end by Sunday
June 4, 1999
Kosovo rebels wary of peace agreement
June 4, 1999

  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosovo - from

  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis

Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
  • Church World Service
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Iowa Department of Human Services
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Immigration and Refugee Services of America
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • United States Catholic Conference

  • World Relief
  • Doctors without borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International

  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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