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Friday, May 28, 1999 Published at 00:04 GMT 01:04 UK


World: Europe

Refugees film ethnic cleansing

An elderly woman stumbles after an 80-mile forced march

Two ethnic Albanian sisters forced out of Kosovo have provided the first video evidence of how the Serbs are ethnically cleansing the province.

Kosovo: Special Report
They shot their film as they were made to leave their homes in Mitrovica in the north of the province at gunpoint.

The sisters were among 10,000 people who were forced to walk day and night to Djakovica in the west and then back again.

The video shows hundreds of refugees - from toddlers to elderly people, barely able to walk - slogging through the driving rain.


The sisters show the BBC's Humphrey Hawksley their video
Their few belongings are crammed into plastic bags or tied up in cloth bundles. Some attempt to keep the rain out with plastic sheets, others have given up.

The sisters, Fatima and Larina, who told their story exclusively to the BBC, are young law students who a few weeks ago had everything going for them. They are now in a refugee camp in Montenegro.


[ image: Fatiba shot the video]
Fatiba shot the video
Fatima, who made the video, explains how they were driven from their homes as part of an unwanted race and shuffled back and forth within Kosovo in human herds.

They say the family was split up at the start and they only found one another when they eventually arrived at the refugee camp in Montenegro.

Burnt homes

The video shows the refugees arriving in the shattered town of Djakovica after an 80-mile walk. The buildings have been burnt and the streets look deserted.


[ image: Larina had everything going for her]
Larina had everything going for her
But the sisters said the police immediately made them turn round and go back the way they had come. They were on the road for three days and three nights.

Suddenly the grim scenes of refugees cut to happier times. The girls had forgotten that the tape they had used to film their journey had previous footage of a birthday celebration for their young neice.

Surprised, Larina gasps and smiles. 'That's my house!', she exclaims, before remembering her home is now a tent in a refugee camp. 'That was my house,' she corrects herself.

But as she watches her neice dance around what was her living room, the memories come flooding back and she breaks down and sobs.



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