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Cartooning in Conflict
Chicago Nov. 4-6

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14/07/2006

Kosovo

For the first time the Families Forum was invited to lecture in a conflict area. Ali Abu Awaad and Sharon Misheiker were invited to meet a group of young Albanians and Serbs that have just started their first steps on the long road of reconciliation and dialog.

 

"Operation Dove" (Nonviolent Peace Corps), that has been developed by the Italian Associazione Comunita Papa
Govanni XXIII and also works in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, was behind the invitation.

Kosovo is a region that suffered from a long and painful war during the 1990s In this beautiful area live 88% Albanians and a minority of Serbs. There are more minorities in Kosovo, for example Egyptians that came to Kosovo many years ago.  Most of the residents of Kosovo are farmers. Electricity is unavailable many hours during the day and night and the unemployment rate is very high. Today Kosovo is under the authority of the U.N.. In the past, it was part of Serbia and Montenegro. Milosevic introduced racist rules against the Albanians. NATO forces decided to intervene and bomb Serbia in the "Angel of Mercy" operation. The Albanians were told about the operation and left their houses until  the end of the bombing.  When they came back their houses they found that their houses had been burned and destroyed. Some years later ,pogroms started against the Serbs that fled from their houses which were then burned and destroyed. Many Serbs are still afraid to return to their homes or leave their villages. The sides don't speak the same language, Albanians want an autonomous Kosovo and the Serbs don't. Both sides suffered a lot and both are hurt and angry.

Our members met a Serbian father that lost his child in the war and different groups of Albanian and Serbs. The main meeting was with the joint group of young Albanians, Serbs and Egyptians that are trying to open a channel of dialogue between them. The reactions of the people that participated in the meetings we held were very good. When our members left, they got a small candle-holder because, as they were told, they had brought a small light to Kosovo, the light of hope and reconciliation. As a forum we don't have any political solutions, and the only thing we can do is to offer a way, an alternative to the killings and the violence. That's what we are trying to do in Israel and the Palestinian authority and that what we brought to Kosovo.

 

09/03/2006
 







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