Enclave

Since the end of the Second World War, the ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo had grown until reach 90 per cent of the population in the eighties, due to the high birth rate of the Albanians and the flight of Serbian families towards the north, harassed by the Albanian Kosovo independence guerrilla of the UÇK.

After the end of the war, the security and stability of the area was entrusted to KFOR. Despite this, acts of revenge were carried out by Albanians against the Serbian community, causing the outflows of  people affected towards the north of the Ibar river in the Kosovo province of Metohia and towards Serbia. Other groups of Serbs formed enclaves in some areas of the country.

There are two kinds of Serbian enclaves; small cities like Gracanica or Strpce where life is comfortable and quiet, and small communities that live like ghettos surrounded by Kosovo Albanians. Those enclaves are like independent islands that live with their backs to Kosovo, do not recognize Kosovo as a country and live in an administrative limbo receiving little aid from Belgrade. The conflicts with their Albanian neighbors affects the survival economy of the families, theft of tractors and agricultural machines and slaughter of cattle are frequent.

 

In the enclaves, there is a real economy that allows meet basic needs (food and housing) but there are real survival problems. It is difficult to find anything because, except small shops with food and basic products, there are no specialized stores. It is usually an adventure to buy furniture, clothes, household products.... and more serious, visit the doctor, buy medicines, give birth if there are complications. Some children must to be transferred to Italy to carry out major surgery or simple vision checks. The simple fact of being celiac becomes a very serious problem of survival.

 

For the little ones, life is simpler, they play in the street with their friends and go to school, the difficulties come when adolescence approaches, when they show a deep sense of isolation towards their roots. Serbia, the homeland of its language and culture, is seen far away on television, in sports championships, contests, culturally orphans living in a land officially inhabited by another ethnic group that also professes another religion, the Muslim. Various organizations, such as  “Solidadridad Kosovo “the Red Cross or the Serbian Orthodox Church, are concerned about fill these gaps, organizing summer camps and trips so they can see that there is a horizon out there, that there is another world outside the ghetto.

In the drawings made by children in workshops given by NGOs, there is a very high percentage of Serbian flags, desiring to be recognized as members of a community in which they do not live. They can not afford to have dreams when they ask them what they want to be, because everything they can see, do, explore, remains inside  the enclave.

 

The current situation, nearly 10 years after the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo, has nothing to do with that of a decade ago. The Serbs of the enclaves no longer need the escort of the KFOR soldiers to go shopping in the northern part or to sell their agricultural products. Even so the Serbs of the enclaves accuse the Kosovars of frequent robberies and the Kosovar police of doing nothing to remedy the situation. The ethnic conflict is paused waiting for a spark like the one in 2004 to make the country burn again.

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