Erik Messori

The 1998-1999 conflict in Kosovo caused the deaths of about 13,000 victims, mostly ethnic Albanians. On February 17, 2008, through a unilateral declaration, the Republic of Kosovo proclaimed it’s independence from Serbia, currently recognized by over 110 states of the international community. The independence of Kosovo is the result of a bloody conflict, a war of ethnic cleansing by paramilitary forces inspired by Serb extremists, who left a vacuum in the country, as more than 2000 people are still missing in mass graves. A team of doctors and forensic pathologists work daily, exhuming corpses and analyzing the remains and their DNA. The United Nations Office on Missing Persons and the Legal Police is responsible for this process, and retrieves information on mass graves not yet identified in the Balkans. The United Nations mission has taken over the civil administration of the province, carrying out joint activities with the International Committee of the Red Cross and other local NGOs. “The horror house belonged to the Duraka family, the Serb paramilitary troops occupied the village taking away all the males over the age of 16”. Some survivors describe the days of terror that even today, after almost twenty years, are alive in their memories. This massacre was perpetrated in the farming village of Velika Krusha. A dozen or so farms crest a road nearby between Prizren and Djakovica. A surviving woman, taking refuge in the mountains, describes “the day she returned to her village in the province of Drenica” Even the rain could not cover the smell of decaying bodies. Kosovo is going through a very important historical period. For some of the destroyed communities, the traumatic effects still persist. The main ethnic groups in Kosovo are identified under a banner, but in real life they lead separate lives, creating mono-ethnic realities. The national identity is fragile because of the wounds left by this fierce war. Kosovo remains an unresolved issue in the Balkans .

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