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Monday, January 11, 1999 Published at 10:23 GMT

World: Europe

Kosovo's people fear new refugee ordeal

The ceasefire gives just enough time to rebuild

By Ben Brown, in Kosovo

There are fears of a new refugee crisis in Kosovo, with the growing prospect of new fighting between the Kosovan Liberation Army and the Serbs.

Ben Brown visits Kosovan refugees who fear renewed war in central Europe
In last year's fighting between the Serbs and the Kosovo Liberation Army 250,000 ethnic Albanian refugees fled their homes, and hid in the hillsides. Many returned in the autumn, after an uneasy truce.

None of the refugees who were hiding in the hills and the mountains of Kosovo are up there any longer.

Kosovo Section
The delicate truce means they have been able to go back to their villages, but they know their ordeal may not be over. Money from international aid has helped them rebuild but the trouble is they fear the Serbs may be back before too long.

[ image: Children huddle reading in a cowshed - sporadic shooting stops them from going to school]
Children huddle reading in a cowshed - sporadic shooting stops them from going to school
The Rahman family came back to their house to find it burned down, but in their case no-one is helping them rebuild it. So now they are staying across the yard in a tiny cow shed, their new home. Three generations of the family, 12 people in all, have no choice but to live where their cattle used to.

They were refugees for three months last year but they say that life is little better for them now, even though they are back in their village:

"This is no life," says Zelije Rahman. "Can you imagine living like this? It's like we're dead. We have no food, no drink, no clothes. They burned everything we had. I never dreamed I would have to live like this. "

[ image: A man uses aid money to fix his house - but he knows it may not last]
A man uses aid money to fix his house - but he knows it may not last
Everyone here knows that what these people really need is not the help of the aid workers but peace and tranquility. But there has been precious little sign of that.

Whenever fresh fighting flares up here, as it did over Christmas, thousands more people are suddenly made homeless.

Not only ethnic Albanians but also Serbs. There are innocent victims on both sides of the Kosovo tragedy.

For far too many people here, fleeing from danger has become a way of life, and there is a grim expectation that in 1999 the war will resume, and so will Kosovo's refugee crisis.

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