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US

Kosovars in U.S. struggle over whether to stay

Refugees
Kosovar refugees who are grateful to be in the U.S. miss their homeland nonetheless  
VIDEO
CNN's Maria Hinojosa talks with a Kosovar family living in the U.S. but pining for the homeland
Windows Media 28K 80K

In this story:

Woman must leave husband behind

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



July 7, 1999
Web posted at: 10:37 p.m. EDT (0237 GMT)

From Correspondent Maria Hinojosa

WATERBURY, Connecticut (CNN) -- Many Kosovar Albanians had little choice but to leave their homes when they were forced out at gunpoint. But the several thousand Kosovar refugees now in the United States face the difficult decision of whether to stay in America or return to their homeland.

Seven members of the Marku family face that choice as they long for news about loved ones who are still missing.

One woman left her daughter behind when masked men told the family they had five minutes to leave their home and homeland, according to the Markus.

"I can't describe how bad it was at that moment," said Johanna Marku, 19, who was a medical student in Kosovo and now is training to become a nurse.

Woman must leave husband behind

Photo
Johanna Marku had to come to the U.S. without her husband and her daughter  

Another woman in the Marku family, Leaura Qasimi, had to leave the father of her newborn baby behind in the Balkans. She tries to think about the future, but sadness lingers.

"I appreciate what the United States of America is doing for us," Qasimi said. "I am free."

But while the Marku family lives with American conveniences, they are still not free of the psychological wounds of war.

"It's not like home," said 31-year-old Osmond Marku, who works the overnight shift in a factory making $10.50 an hour. "I'm not saying that living here is bad. It is good here, but it's not like being at home."

Home, in Kosovo, is where Johanna's husband was left behind.

"It's very different, because here there is democracy. I am free here," said Johanna. "But I mean there -- over there is my lovely, people

Markus
Even though the Markus take a normal afternoon stroll, they think of one of their daughters left behind  

Now that the war is over, choices must be made. Do they stay so that the youngest son, who is often sad and withdrawn, can start school in September?

Do they stay and rebuild a life with the cousin who brought them here in the first place and who has asked them not to go back?

"Nowhere will they find a country like the United States," said the cousin, Argon. "So they are lucky, very lucky."

Should they stay in a place where even those who want to help, such as refugee counselors, can't seem to give them what the refugees really want?

"I can't take away the pain of loneliness and missing family and not knowing what is going on back there," said Myra Oliver of the International Institute of Connecticut

For now, they will stay, but like many other Kosovar refugees, their hopes and dreams are for another country far away.

"I want the best for my country, the best for my daughter and for other people to be free," said Johanna.



RELATED STORIES:
First 'sanctioned' refugees return to Kosovo
June 28, 1999
Number, whereabouts of Kosovo refugees
June 27, 1999
Clinton to visit Kosovar refugees
June 22, 1999
U.N. wants 2 weeks before Kosovar refugees return
June 18, 1999
Kosovo refugees ignore dangers to return home
June 17, 1999
Kosovar refugees in Florida hesitant to go home
June 15, 1999
Some Kosovo refugees return while others continue to flee
June 12, 1999
Fort Dix speeds up relocation of Kosovo refugees
June 6, 1999
Pentagon considers using second Army base as refugee center
June 1, 1999

RELATED SITES:
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

Relief:
  • 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
  • UNHCR
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