The ethnic conflict between the Serb and Albanian populations in Kosovo was the cause of years of suppression and hundreds of thousands of refugees. The war is over, but the ethnic tensions remain.
In 1999, War Child Holland began a creative social program for the Kosovar Children in Albania. When the refugees returned to Kosovo once the war was over, War Child Holland started to work in the regions around the cities of Peja, Gjakova and Prishtina. Since then, thousands of children have participated in the creative psycho-social programme each year. Initially, international staff ran workshops for children and trained Kosovar workers. In 2002 the trained Kosovars themselves founded their own NGO and continued to work as World Child Kosova.
The objectives of World Child Kosova are:
- · To increase awareness of children and young people about the environment where they live and to overcome psychosocial problems through creative and sports activities.
- · To protect the rights of children and youths and support them to overcome any difficulties that they come across in society.
- · To stimulate and support new creative developments in the Kosova education system.
World Child Kosova has continued to expand, develop and enhance its programmes into new areas, like for example working with teachers, peace building activities with youths, community theatre productions, and projects for children with special needs.
World Child has involved over 3000 children and youth in its creative and sportive activities every year.
Another important activity for World Child in the last couple of years has been the training of teachers. The general need of teachers to develop more advanced, new ways of teaching, and World Child’s excellent relationship with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, prompted the development and implementation of the “Creative Methods as Pedagogical Tool, and its application in the Education System” seminar series for teachers. This ongoing series has already provided over 3000 teachers with an important opportunity to expand their knowledge in various methods and teaching techniques.
The ethnic conflict
Ninety percent of the Kosovar population originates from Albania, the other ten percent are Serbian. For that reason, in 1974 Kosovo became an autonomous region of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Kosovar autonomy ended in 1989, however, when Serbian leader Slobodan Milosovic withdrew this status.
In the ten following years, the Albanians were subordinated by Serb troops. Not only were there grave violations of human rights, but violence took a lot of lives. As a result, Albanians in Kosovo took up weapons themselves: this was the start of an openly fought war between Albanian rebels and the Serbian army.
The conflict reached a tragic climax in 1999, as the Serbs chased away more than 800.000 Albanian Kosovars. Refugees fled to neighbouring countries Albania, Montenegro, and Macedonia. The international community finally reacted: NATO-troops carried out air-strikes to force the Serbian army to a standstill. In the short time they were given Serbian paramilitary troops nevertheless managed to destroy and plunder Kosovo. Before it all ended, an estimated 10.000 people were killed.
After three months of international pressure a peace treaty was signed: the Serbian troops agreed to leave Kosovo and an international peacekeeping force was installed in the region. The United Nations as yet remain responsible for the government of Kosovo.