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Friday, May 21, 1999 Published at 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK

World: Europe

Children's tales of horror

Arseme Deder describes his father's death

By Orla Guerin in Macedonia

Children caught up in the conflict in Kosovo have been telling of their experiences in paintings and drawings.

Kosovo: Special Report
An exhibition of their work, collected by a Kosovo Albanian teacher, has opened in the Macedonian town of Tetovo.

One 12-year-old boy recorded the final moments of his father's life.

The BBC's Orla Guerin: "Every picture is full of the horror of war"
Alone in a tent in a refugee camp, Arseme Deder is putting a nightmare down on paper. It is a story of his life from 17 April, when Serb forces killed his father.

He tells us he wants the world to know what the Serbs did in Kosovo. He draws things no child should see.

[ image: Arseme's drawing of the Serb attack on his family]
Arseme's drawing of the Serb attack on his family
"Here I'll draw dead soldiers and here dead people. And a tank approaching the houses," he said.

Ozman is a Kosovo Albanian teacher forced to flee for his life. He persuaded Arseme and 130 other children to record their suffering.

Their simple drawings tell the story of shattered lives. Arseme's are among the most vivid.

[ image: Ozman: 130 children have contributed to his exhibition]
Ozman: 130 children have contributed to his exhibition
One picture, entitled "massacre of my father" shows how Serbs surrounded his family, making them sit with their hands in the air.

It was then, Arseme said, they took his father away. In the distance, he heard him being shot. Later, relatives found his mutilated body.

"I went to the field where they killed my father. If I had lifted my head a little, I would have seen him," Arseme said.

"I am glad I didn't. If I had seen him, I would have died, too."

[ image: For many young victims, words are too difficult]
For many young victims, words are too difficult
Every picture in the exhibition is full of the horror of war.

Some are the work of young refugees, just nine years old. They have left not only their homeland, but also their childhood behind.

For many of the young victims of the war, words are still too difficult. Only in paintings and drawings can they reveal the horror of what has happened to them and their families.

The exhibition is their silent testimony.

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