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World - Europe


Voices of the refugees

April 2, 1999
Web posted at: 1:14 p.m. EST (1814 GMT)

(CNN) -- Many of the tens of thousands of Kosovo refugees have told humanitarian workers and CNN correspondents tales of violence, suffering and despair.

Western aid agencies and political leaders in Europe have said the mass exodus of ethnic Albanians from the Serb province of Kosovo is a tragedy reminiscent of some of the darkest moments of World War II.

Following are comments made by some of the refugees who have found a safe haven outside Kosovo:

"Two days ago, we were sitting eating our breakfast at about 9 a.m. Suddenly, the Serbian police and paramilitary attacked, with machine guns, artillery, tanks." (Ramadan Suleimani, in Kukes, Albania)

"One Serb who lived near the mosque came out begging the soldiers not to kick us out, but they were shooting in the air, just like in Hitler's time. I never thought I would live long enough to see this."

(Fellow refugee Rexhep Liman, 72, survived the trip into Albania but died after spending his first night on the road in the rain).

"He (was not sick but it was very cold. We left Pristina at 1 p.m. yesterday. All the way, he kept saying that he wanted to go back." (Skender Mauriqi, in Kukes)

"(We) were pushed, made to go faster and faster. They said they will kills us and the older people unless we moved faster. Oh my God, what have they done?" (A weeping, elderly woman in Kukes)

"I left my two boys behind, I don't know where they are. They are frightened because they are young. Who knows what will happen to them." (A distraught refugee in Kukes)

"Kosovo doesn't exist any more. We do not need Europe to watch us. We want Europe to give us arms to fight the Serbs. It is better to die with a gun at home than to be here." (A male refugee in his late 50s, in Blace, Macedonia)

"I am a doctor. There are many doctors here. We can help but we need at least medicine." (Arta, a woman in her mid-30s, in Blace)

"We are young. We can last here for days. But there are too many children and old people here. Unless the Red Cross does something, they are going to die." (A 17-year old boy in Blace)

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