Page 448 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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Bishop atanasije (jevtić)
this period is the beginning of armed attacks even on orga- nized civilian convoys escorted by KFOR. attacks on Ser- bian convoys near Mitrovica and Peć, as well as missile at- tacks on the UNHCR bus between Mitrovica and the vil- lage of Banja near Rudnik, following which the reaction of KFOR was very lukewarm and indecisive, confirmed that it was permissible to also attack without punishment civil- ian vehicles under escort and that KFOR was not quite ready to respond to these attacks with full force. The reactions of Western peacekeepers for the most part were limited to evacuation of the attacked while the attackers in all instanc- es left the scene of the attack unpunished. The use of alba- nian children to stone civilian Serbian convoys as well as attacks on Serbian vehicles lagging behind in convoys, would become almost everyday occurrences as early as the begin- ning of the year 2000, to a great degree hindering the trav- el of Serbian civilians from the enclaves to central Serbia.
at the beginning of the year 2000 the international com- munity apparently started to realize that attacks by the al- banians were not just a result of angry revenge for the vio- lence committed during the war but the clear intention to expel all non-albanians from Kosovo and Metohija. That is why a whole series of positive measures were undertak- en by UNMiK and KFOR that, despite the fact that they have not significantly improved the position of the Serbs, nevertheless demonstrated that changes were occurring in the thinking of the international community. The major obstacle to positive changes in the public opinion of the West remained the still active and surviving regime of Slo- bodan Milošević in whose shadow all other problems (es- pecially albanian crimes against the Serbs) were barely dis- cernible. These attacks have not stopped to this very day. Thus, recently, in june 2003, a van traveling to Prizren came under gunfire near Suva Reka.
During the course of the winter and the early spring there were renewed efforts on the part of the albanians to force their way into the Serbian part of Mitrovica which were prevented by French KFOR. On the other hand, pres- sures on Serbs in other areas continued with a new empha- sis on the business of selling Serbian property for which albanian buyers offered purchase prices far below market value. Nevertheless, the choice between a house sold for next to nothing and a torched and destroyed house forced many Serbs to decide to sell their houses. Sales were espe- cially intense in mixed areas where the albanian popula- tion had become the overwhelming majority since the war, especially in cities such as Priština, Kosovo Polje, Lipljan, Uroševac, Gnjilane, Prizren, etc. it should be mentioned that UNMiK discontinued at the very beginning the FRY decree banning the sale of Serbian property to the alba- nians, giving added incentive to a profitable business which, during a short period of time, transferred a large part of Serbian land and property into the hands of the Kosovo albanians, but not infrequently also of rich buyers from albania and Macedonia. Protests by the SNC and Church
to Governor Kouchner did not result in the prevention of this practical usurpation of Serbian land. illegal appropria- tion and use of Serbian private and national and church property has not been stopped to this day.
With the return of the Kosovo refugees in the first months after the war, a large number of albanians (between 50,000–150,000) who had never previously lived in Kosovo entered the Province from albania and Macedonia. in the meanwhile UNMiK began to use practically coercive mea- sures to return Kosovo refugees from the West, i.e. alba- nians among whom there were a substantial number of people from albania proper, who had received the status of refugees in Western countries by declaring themselves as Kosovo albanians who “fled from Serbian terror.” Thus the number of the albanian population significantly in- creased in comparison to before the war though even ac- cording to the testimony of international representatives that number never reached the alleged total of two million albanians in Kosovo and Metohija so carelessly used dur- ing the pre-war period.
as far as the number of Serbs is concerned, it is not easy to establish reliable figures. it is certain that about 200,000 Serbs left Kosovo and Metohija since the begin- ning of the bombing in 1999 to the beginning of the year 2000, while according to UNMiK and KFOR statistics there are about 100,000 Serbs remaining in the province, half of whom or slightly more than half live north of Mitro- vica while the rest was distributed throughout the central enclaves, Pomoravlje, Brezovica and small Metohija en- claves. Following the specific request of Bishop artemije and the SNC KFOR finally admitted that about 130,000– 135,000 Serbs remained in Kosovo and Metohija. This ap- proximate number of Serbs remained more or less stable until the beginning of 2001 because even though the grad- ual process of departures continued in 2000, there were also a certain number of spontaneous returns to the en- claves where life had become more or less normal in com- parison with the first days. in addition to Serbs, a signifi- cant number of Roma, Bosniacs, Goranci and Kosovo Croatians also left Kosovo and Metohija; thus, the total number of non-albanian refugees leaving the Province has certainly already exceeded 300,000 people. Regardless of the exact figures, which will soon be established and con- firmed, it is an indisputable fact that the number of non- albanian refugees during the period of international peace, taking into account the ethnic composition of the popula- tion, has proportionally far exceeded the number of alba- nian refugees during the period of war. Most tragic per- haps is the fate of the Serbs in the village of Cernica near Gnjilane, where 85 Serb households live among 400 alba- nian ones. in frequent attacks by the albanians five Serbi- an families have been killed and their houses blown up and then the church on the hill was largely devastated. Later this church was repaired with the help of Canadian dona- tions.

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