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Kosovo refugees find haven at Georgia retreat

Tucked in the rolling hills of northeast Georgia, a Christian group houses Kosovo refugees as they decide whether to return to Yugoslavia or begin a new life in America

Focus on
Some Kosovo refugees get help from a Christian group in Georgia. CNN's Carol Lin visits some of them (June 21)
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World leaders focus on Kosovo recovery; 2 peacekeepers killed in blast

Focus on Kosovo
Focus on Kosovo

June 21, 1999
Web posted at: 1:54 p.m. EDT (1754 GMT)

In this story:

The mysteries of shopping

Field mice and midnight trains


COMER, Georgia (CNN) -- Five thousand miles from fear and gunfire, dozens of Kosovo ethnic Albanians have found sanctuary in a wooded retreat in northeast Georgia.

Rather than running from Serb snipers, the refugees' children ride bicycles at the Jubilee Partners community run by Christian pacifists near the mountain town of Comer, northeast of Athens.

They and their parents are among more than 7,500 Kosovars throughout the United States who are learning new ways.

Ilir Hoxja, a 45-year-old music producer from the Kosovo provincial capital of Pristina, was reunited at the Jubilee Partners compound with his neighbors one month after Serbs forced his family to flee.

Volunteers teach the refugees language and life skills -- how to find homes, employment and forget the violence of the past.

"One of the most important things that happens is a chance to regain some faith in human beings, both those like them and those different from them," said Bob Mosley, who followed this philosophy when he helped found Jubilee Partners 20 years ago on 258 acres in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

The mysteries of shopping

Since the center opened, it has hosted 2,200 refugees, most of them traumatized by war and brutality, from 15 countries.

More than half of them have been children. Many have earned scholarships and graduated from college since coming to the United States.

The parents have the most difficulty coping with a new country. They struggle to learn words and numbers all over again, but young people like Teuta Hoxja, 15, picks up English easily.

More challenges await the Kosovars when they go to shop with the $20 allowance each of them receives each week. Gone are the open-air markets and bargaining they are used to. In their place are bright supermarkets that offer special deals, like three pizzas for the price of two.

Since the NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia ended in early June, Kosovo refugees have faced the question of whether to return home. The U.S. government, which offered to take in 20,000 refugees, has offered to let them remain and eventually become citizens.

buying food
For the Kosovars, shopping in U.S. supermarkets differs from the open markets and bargaining they're used to in Yugoslavia  

In the coming weeks, the refugees at Jubilee Partners will resettle in Atlanta, if they decide to stay. The Hoxjas likely will make that choice. Ilir Hoxja does not think the peace in Kosovo will last, and believes his family will have more opportunities in the United States.

"I am happy. My children good in Georgia," he said.

Field mice and midnight trains

Inspired by the Biblical call of Jesus to make peace in the world, the Jubilee activists have traveled to battle zones in many nations, chased midnight trains with nuclear weapons on board and done prison time for resisting war taxes.

Despite the seriousness of the Jubilee Partners' work, there are lighthearted moments. In the 1996 book "With Our Own Eyes," co-written by Joyce Hollyday, Mosley recalls one Laotian family turning up the forest with shovels in search of fat field mice, considered an edible delicacy. They found quite a few.

One day, the Welcome Center buzzed with excitement when word spread that a really big one had fallen into a trash barrel. It turned out to be an angry, hissing opossum. The forest wildlife was then placed off-limits to the hunters.

Correspondent Carol Lin contributed to this report.

NATO air war officially ends as Yugoslav troops leave Kosovo
June 20, 1999
Yeltsin due at G-8 summit, amid dispute over Yugoslav aid
June 19, 1999
Yugoslav military presence in Kosovo drawing to a close
June 19, 1999
G-8 nations to tackle Third World debt
June 18, 1999
Agreement reached on Russian role in Kosovo force
June 18, 1999
Yugoslav forces meet second withdrawal deadline
June 18, 1999

  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
  • Kosovo - from

  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis

Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
  • Church World Service
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Iowa Department of Human Services
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Immigration and Refugee Services of America
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • United States Catholic Conference

  • World Relief
  • Doctors without borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International

  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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