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Monday, May 10, 1999 Published at 23:44 GMT 00:44 UK


'Scotland is beautiful' - Kosovo refugee

Safe in Glasgow - but still traumatised

Kosovo refugees have been describing their happiness at their escape to safety in the UK, far away from the war-torn Balkans.

"Scotland is beautiful," said one grateful father of five.

Kosovo: Special Report
The first flight arrived from Macedonia on Sunday afternoon and the second touched down at Prestwick airport later in the evening. It was the first stage of what is expected to be a regular airlift of refugees.

More than 300 refugees are settling into temporary accommodation in Glasgow, Renfrew and North Berwick.

They are all extremely tired but relieved.

One of the new arrivals, Fadil Mustafa, 37, said he was most impressed with the locals' response to their new guests.

He said: "If I compare it to the situation in Kosovo the situation in the camp was great but if I compare it to our welcome in Scotland, well this is not great, this is beautiful."

Forced departure

Mr Mustafa said he could hardly believe he and his family were safe.

He had been a factory administrator until - three weeks ago - Serb police came and ordered him and his family to leave their village of Pleshine, near Ferzaj, in Kosovo.

[ image: Fadil Mustafa:
Fadil Mustafa: "There is no life over there"
He said: "I left my parents, two brothers and a sister - there is no life over there. The only thing you can see is terror from the military and paramilitary groups. You can't organise your private life.

"They came into the house and they asked us for money and they said if we didn't give them money they would take our lives.

"It is very chaotic, wherever you go there is police and military, there is nothing else except that."

[ image: Refugees of all ages are stuck in the camps]
Refugees of all ages are stuck in the camps
The Mustafas want to go home to Kosovo but they said to do that, Nato must make Kosovo safe enough for them to live in.

The family are now housed in a high-rise block of flats in Glasgow's Springburn area where they have been given fresh laundry, clothes, food and toys for the children, Arta, six, Albana, five, Halide, four, Artan, two and Blerta, four months.

The family and all the other Kosovo refugees have been given leave to stay for up to a year. They will be allowed to look for work, claim benefits and the children can go to school.

Family reunion

Nine of the 300 refugees are believed to have relatives in the UK. One Kosovo Albanian student based in London told of his delight at discovering his family had escaped to safety.

Faton Gashi received a telephone call from his sister Fegjrije on Sunday night to say she had arrived in Glasgow with their father and three other sisters.

Faton travelled to the city and was reunited with his family at the flats where they are being housed.

Mr Gashi, 22, who studies in Harrow, north-west London, said: "When I heard last night I thought, 'I can't believe it.' I wasn't sure until I came here and saw them today. Now I know it's true and I'm very happy. I don't want anything else. I have got all I want."

He said he did not know the whereabouts of his two other sisters, one of whom has five children.

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