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Saturday, 6 May, 2000, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Starting over in Kosovo
Serb soldiers
Serb soldiers withdraw from Pristina
In the second of Chris Ledgard's reports from Kosovo, he finds the Abazi family starting again in Pristina after living as refugees in the UK.

The Abazi family home is a chalet-style wooden structure built on a platform with views of the hills surrounding Pristina.

It is right on the edge of the city, though the level of foundation-laying all around leads you to suspect that Greater Pristina will swallow the greenbelt before long and the Abazis will become suburban.

For the moment, though, there is nothing beyond their tiny field full of potatoes and peppers but lush Balkan countryside looking its best in the late Spring sunshine.

"It's like being given a second life," Adil Abazi said, looking at his younger brother Abaz through the smoke of cigarettes.

Brothers, cousins and nephews flicked their ash in agreement.

After the bombing: Much to rebuild in Pristina
This was the first full family meeting since the end of last spring. Then, having been hounded by Serb police from town to village and back to town again, Abaz, his wife and two daughters fled to Macedonia.

The rest of the family tried to follow later, but by then the border had closed. After that, every day was nervous torture.

Abaz says, he and his family were treated "like ministers" in England, not a phrase normally applied to living on benefits in Hackney.

Only the sight of the local constabulary frightened him, and the sound of sirens as the Met pursued London's lowlife brought back memories of terrorism by Serbia's military police.

Building site

From the Abazis' balcony, the view of Pristina is like a vast, nearly-finished building site, where the developers can not put up signs declaring a job well done because there is still too much dust, too many vehicles struggling over bumpy roads, too many exposed bricks and timbers, and too many people hanging around.

There are still thousands of refugees waiting to come back.

In Germany, they are being offered sizeable financial incentives to go sooner rather than later.

The head of operations for one big charity told me he is worried about people coming back to nothing, and thinking with their stomachs rather than their heads.

I suppose building sites can be dangerous places.

Click here to read the first part of Chris Ledgard's Kosovo diary.

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See also:

05 May 00 | UK
Return to Kosovo
22 Mar 00 | Scotland
Leaflets 'target refugees'
04 May 00 | Europe
Serb return to Kosovo planned
09 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Asylum row warning over elections
09 Nov 99 | UK Politics
Balkan refugee cycle continues
25 Feb 00 | Europe
Kosovo: What happened to peace?
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