O nás Pro dárce Pro dobrovolníky Kosovský deník Fotogalerie Odkazy
Tirana Diary 4 June 1999

Tirana 4 June 1999

I woke up with Procal Harum, this one hit they had somewhere in the end of the sixties, it comes from different open windows, so the local radio must be broadcasting it. I think they have a good music taste there, it's basically the sixties which I hear in the morning, sometimes a bit strange with those choppers in the air. It gives the feeling I am in the wrong war.

This morning we had a long discussion about why this humanitarian aid delivery in this country is such a chaos. Almost nothing seems to work the way it's supposed to. Still you can't blame it on special organisations or NGO's it is just the whole situation in itself. The small NGO's are a part of the mess and the big ones too. World Food Programme, for example has been trying for two months now to get an overview of what is being distributed where, they have a kind of overview of what comes into the country, at least they do if the documents at the costums are filled in properly, but from there they can't trace most of it down. They have been begging organisations all this time now to be so kind to fill in some small form explaining where they have brought or stocked their aid. But how does an organisation which is arriving in Durres, then driving to say Kukes (since that is the place to be), unloading their truck and directly returning (after taking some pictures of course), know that he or she has to fill in a form for WFP. Nobody tells them. So the bottleneck at the port could be used to get that information, but it isn't, of course.

Next problem is that lots of organisations supply food, but don't have a distribution network. They can store their supplies in warehouses, but that's it, they can't get it away from there, since they haven't got a distribution network. A few weeks ago they, the big ones, were working on a distribution scheme, with WFP as end-responsible organisation, but different bigger NGO's in charge of food distribution in all the prefects. A nice idea, it means when you want to deliver something somewhere, or you have delivered something somewhere, you should go to the organisation in charge of that prefect and tell them that you have delivered something or you are willing to deliver. Problem is that you can't get the information anywhere which those organisations are and were you can find them. So even those organisations who are willing to cooperate in the system have a hard time to do so. And this total lack of coordination is what makes it so hard in this country.

Plus of course that the situation in this country is changing with the day, things which were rather needed today are too much tomorrow, since nobody has an overview of what is coming besides the deliveries from WFP, and even they are often surprised. So if you have been here two weeks ago to find out what is needed and you are now delivering it, it might be already there, or triple, or the camp may even be gone, or taken over by another organisation, which doesn't want you to deliver anything there. This last thing is very common, it is making our preparation work hard as well, one moment you've found out who is doing the management of a certain camp, but by the time you finally have somebody of that organisation on the telephone (and that takes ages) the management is taken over by somebody else and the telephone is answered by an old Albanian lady, who is back in to her house, or has her telephone back, since the organisation has moved out, but that she can't tell you that, at least not in English.

In the late afternoon I joined a preparation meeting for a roundtable, organised by the Soros foundation, about "the danger of Drugs", which will take place in the end of the month. I was invited, since they heard that I was in Croatia and Bosnia and that we had there some problems with frontline soldiers, who were heavily on drugs. Almost all the fighters were on some kind of drug, either alcohol or some chemical ones. I mean you need to have the energy to fight from somewhere. The meeting took almost two hours, and I couldn't really follow it, it was all in Albanian, and the guy who translated for me only translated a sentence every five minutes, which is not really helpful when you see fifteen people sitting around a table, at least five of which are talking or rather shouting to each other, and only the one who shouted the hardest can finish her or his sentence it seems. The others try directly afterwards if they are now able to get their sentence through.

It is not really what I had imagined and when I finally could say something I could introduce myself with five sentences, and that is all, I was obviously not loud enough, since the discussion rolled on. The guy translated that they are discussing what I have said. The guy from the ministry for justice said that he thinks it is not so important that a special topic of the roundtable would be about "drug and war, especially drugs and soldiers". First there is no war in this country and secondly most of the soldiers are foreign anyway, so you can't do anything against them anyway.

During the meetig I find out that the laws against drugs are rather strange and vague. You are not allowed to sell it, at least not as an Albanian in Albania, but it is unclear whether that also holds for foreigners. You are not allowed to use them, but you are allowed to carry it around for your own consumption. And how big this own consumption is is hard to say, there are no strict laws on that one. The guy from the justice department was really complaining about it, they can't go strong on the drugs traffic, since those guys just say that they are carrying things for their own consumption, even when they are walking around with kilos.

This evening I visit Armurt, the organisation from Ananda Marga - for those who don't know them, Ananda Marga is a Yogi group, which started in India but is now all over the world. But apart from meditating for a better world they are also working on it in practical ways. It is almost ten years ago that I met them the first time, that was in Hungary, on a youth and environmental festival I co-organised, called "Ecotopia". At the end of that festival I gave the Ananda Marga Yogi who was there a bag with Polish money which we couldn't use at that moment but for him was just enough to pay the last half of the ecological farm in Poland they were going to open. Over the years I got to know them as a rather active group, they are not really big, but they are everywhere and Amurt is there were help is needed.

So they are also in Albania, actually they already were there before the crisis started, they have been here already two years. What they are now doing with their small group (there are about six of them here) is collecting food and other materials from the big organisations, who have it stockpiled in their warehouses, or from those who are able to organise goods and are able to bring it here, but have no own warehouses or distribution. Together with Kosovar volunteers they pack the food in family parcels and deliver them in a particular part of the town to hostfamilies. Furtheron they also want to build up a kind of community center in that part of the town. Last but least they told me that they are an official registrated organisation in Albania, and therefore entiteled to act as a receiver of Humanitarian Aid and that they have a big warehouse, which they can never fill alone. So let's start filling it.

The sunflower hostel is starting to become a lot like the peace hostel in Zagreb. Volunteers, who just arrived, who are listening to the stories of aid workers from small organisations, who have been already some time here, and who have "seen it all". The two Germans from "Pro Humanum" and the French guy from "Rock 'n Food" are very popular, the newcomers want to "know it all". Is it true that..., are there so-called wildcamps, is that area really dangerous, do this bandits exist, and where.... do some refugee really get no food and others only bread..... how do other camps look like, we have seen only the lakeside camp so far.

Ramona just said to me it is crazy in a way, the town is almost quiet and the moon is hanging over it, what you hear is the dogs and the bass sound of bombers who are coming over, in one way it is so peaceful, in the other way it is the sound of war. Which seems to be going away quickly at this moment in time. The newspapers are telling us that Milosovic is willing to sign any document now. Kosov@ will be open soon, is the rumour. Rumours which are there in war time all the time, you go from one rumour to another to find out what is really behind it, and most of the time they are just rumours.

That's Tirana by night.

wam :-)