BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Saturday, 1 September, 2001, 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK
Macedonia's landscape of fear
Albanian villagers receive humanitarian aid in Sipkovica, near Tetovo
Macedonia's fragile truce has opened the way to aid
The BBC's Frank Gardner reports from the troubled Tetovo region of Macedonia, where six months of ethnic conflict have left people with a legacy of fear and mutual mistrust.

The inhabitants of the village of Tearce received their first outside aid in five weeks when a Red Cross convoy rolled in from the nearest big city, Tetovo.

War between ethnic Albanian rebels and the Macedonian government had cast its shadow over the village which is in the mainly Albanian north.

The Red Cross found a countryside typical of Balkan wars, where one of the communities has largely fled as refugees.

Welcome relief

Red Cross official Caroline Douillez, who is based in Tetovo, explained that many of the villagers, both Albanian and Macedonian, had been unable, or just afraid, to visit the shops for weeks.

"The problem is that for more than five weeks now the people have been blocked off from this area because they could not really travel around freely," she said.


All the roads have been blocked. My husband used to work in a factory but now he can't get to work so he can't be paid. We cannot harvest the potatoes in the fields. My son cannot go to school. I really don't know what to do

Silvana Kostadinovska, Macedonian mother of two

"Both communities have restricted freedom of movement for sure, so today we have brought food to both communities in Tearce, to assist them."

Tearce was just the latest village in the region to receive a Red Cross delivery, the official added, but the going is tough for the aid-workers.

In rural Macedonia, delivering aid often means travelling up dirt tracks to the doors of hillside cottages.

Macedonians isolated

The aid was destined for both of the warring communities, but there were few Macedonians left in Tearce to receive it.

Many have left, intimidated by their Albanian neighbours.

One of those who has stayed on is Silvana Kostadinovska, a mother of two who looks much older than her years, her face creased with worry.

Unidentified Macedonian hostages embrace after being freed in Tetovo
Many Macedonians see no future alongside Albanian neighbours

"We don't feel safe," she said.

"All the roads have been blocked. My husband used to work in a factory but now he can't get to work so he can't be paid. We cannot harvest the potatoes in the fields. My son cannot go to school. I really don't know what to do."

The owner of a Macedonian restaurant, which is just a shattered shell after two Albanian attacks, has no hope for the future.

"I think when Nato leaves and the army and police return here anyway there will not be peaceful co-existence here," the man, who was too frightened to give his name, said.

"The terrorist group will remain in the area and they will continue kidnapping, looting and frightening people."

No future without Nato

The ethnic Albanians themselves fear what will happen if Nato leaves as scheduled and the Macedonian government sends its security forces back into the region.

They may be in a majority in this region, but the armed Albanian fighters, the NLA, have started to hand in their weapons under the peace deal.

A local Albanian architect, Farouk Abedini, spoke for many when he called for Nato to stay on to keep the peace.

Albanian rebel surrenders grenade-launcher at Brodec, near Tetovo
The Albanian fighters are happy to let Nato keep the peace

"We hope very much that Nato will continue to stay here in Macedonia, of course with the OCSE and the ICRC together," he said.

"We are very afraid that Nato is here in Macedonia only to collect the weapons from the NLA and to go back. My opinion is that Nato must change this decision."

With this overriding atmosphere of fear and uncertainty in the Tetovo region, on both sides, it looks like Macedonia has a long way to go to resolving its differences, whatever the success of Nato's disarmament mission.


Key stories

Features

Viewpoints

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

31 Aug 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
22 Aug 01 | Europe
27 Jul 01 | Europe
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes