HeadLine: THOUSANDS CRY TEARS OF GRATITUDE FOR ALL YOUR HELP
Daily Record, 10/04/1999, p6&7
by SHAUN MILNE
THE cargo of aid collected by Daily Record readers finally reached
the refugees of Kosovo last night.
Vital medical supplies, food and clothing were helping thousands long
Men, women and children walked away from long queues, clutching your
There were tears of gratitude and relief – and even a little hope.
Some even managed to raise the glimmer of a smile.
But this cargo is just a start. It is nowhere near enough. It is
doing enormous good for those who get it, but the remaining flights
bringing more supplies from the people of Scotland cannot come too soon for these desperate souls.
The convoy of aid, stacked high aboard two articulated lorries, was
driven to the Macedonian border through the night and halted at
checkpoints till morning to satisfy red tape and await a police escort.
Passing some of the beautiful snow-capped mountains and sweeping
vineyards, it was hard to believe the horrors at the end of the
No words, TV pictures or photographs could possibly prepare you for
the ghastly scenes that awaited.
Nothing can steel you against the wave of hurt and despair that
washes over you on entering the gates of the tented village which is
now home to thousands of refugees.
xBut in Brazda last night, aid workers set about their task with
renewed vigour, buoyed by the consignment of aid despatched from
Medical supplies were put to use by doctors as fast as officials from
UNHCR could rip open the boxes.
A young girl, just into her teens, kneeled beside her father, who was
lying on a stretcher in the medical camp, and said: “Just tell the
world thank you. Tell Scotland thank you for saving him.”
The group from Scottish Charities was welcomed by the refugees with a
warmth that belied their terrible situation.
Valmara Qedavo, 16, was forced to leave her home with her family when
Serb troops forced them out at gunpoint.
She is still too upset to talk about that night, but said all around
her were thankful for all the help they were receiving.
She said: “We want to thank people everywhere who are helping us. We
have nothing. No possessions. Our houses are burned down. We only have
what you people bring.”
The refugees try to hang on to what remains of their dignity. But
they are forced to plead for help simply to survice.
“We need clothes and shoes and we need tents,” said Valmara. “It is
too cold to sleep out here at night. We need you to keep helping us.”
Hata Kuqi, 34, waited in a queue for an hour for her chance to get at
the supplies so her three-year-old daughter, Aplan, could eat.
She asked: “What am I to do? I cannot go home. The Macedonian police
are beating people here in the camp.
“The only thing we can rely on are the relief people – men and women
like you who are bringing us things from other countries.
“We are grateful for what people give, but why should we have to live
our lives like this? It is not right.”
UN officials posted at the camp say food is now getting in to the
refugees in regular supplies.
But they also miss the simple luxuries, such as portable radios,
watches and toys. They want to feel human again and to have a chance to
hear what is happening outside the confines of the camps.
A glimpse of a mobile phone brings a crowd of refugees begging you to
let them phone relatives and friends to check if they are safe.
How can you refuse?
There is no easy way to console people who have just found out that
they have lost a loved one.
And thousands don’t even have the chance to find out.
Nigel Griffiths, the Edinburgh MP who helped to co-ordinate the
Scottish Charities relief flight with the Daily Record, said providing
phone links would be a matter to be looked at urgently .
He said: “It seems such a simple thing but is one which could bring
untold help to people here, just like the family packs we have brought
from Scotland with the help of Record readers.
“The first family I spoke to were delighted because there was a
blanket which pleased the mother, clothes for the daughter.
“The father was just glad he had food for his family, while there was
even a toy for their son.
“But what they don’t have are possessions of their own. Things like
radios and watches, which mean they can keep track of things.
“This place is like taking 20,000 people and dumping them in a field
in Edinburgh after forcing them to walk from Aberdeen or Dundee.
“The response of the Scottish Charities group and the Record readers
“But I can hardly hold back the tears of frustration at what we have
Mr Griffiths met Myrbedete Avdineta, 47, her husband Bemusth, 50, and
their children, Diana, 23, Dionis, 21, Diellza, 19 and Diamant, 13 – an
entire family who have been displaced by the Serbs.
Diana said: “The Serbs came to our house and said we had 15 minutes
to leave or we would be killed. We had no choice but to go.
“We want to go back to our home in Pristina. But first we want NATO
to make it safe again, otherwise we can never go back.
“For now, though, people like you are our angels.”
Vushtri Nazmt, an accountant from Pristina, offered a half-full
packet of cigarettes in exchange for a bottle of water before humbly
accepting it for nothing.
It was for his daughter, Kugtim, who is 14 months old, as he searched
for his 35-year-old wife, Pilana, who is thought to be somewhere on the
He said: “We were forced to leave our homes but here, here it is
safe. We have food, we have shelter but still it is cold.
“But the people in your country have warm hearts for helping us.”
Former Army major John Campbell, 53, from East Kilbride, intends to
be among the first to help rebuild Kosovo when the refugees return
He is currently liaison officer for the UNHCR in Macedonia, having
travelled to previous trouble spots including Bosnia, Croatia and
He was forced to flee from Pristina with the refugees as Serb troops
and police burned the city.
He said: “Even here the refugees are being beaten by Macedonian
police, who at times are as bad as the Serbs.
“We cannot turn our backs on these people.
“A 12-year-old boy I was dealing with just a couple of days ago had
watched both his parents being shot through the head.
“Children here have seen things and heard things that no child should
ever have to, and that will take years of counselling.”
A national TV appeal to help the refugees has raised pounds 8million
in three days, it was announced yesterday, and postal donations are
still reaching the fund set up by the Disasters Emergency Committee of 12 leading charities.
A DEC spokeswoman said: “Please keep the money coming in.”
BBC presenter Jill Dando and actress Juliet Stevenson launched the
appeal with special broadcasts on Tuesday night.
Within 20 minutes, 18,000 people, shocked by pictures of ethnic
Albanians fleeing Serb death squads, had called a hotline to offer
* Donations can be made on 0870 606 0900 or 0990 222 233.