O nás Pro dárce Pro dobrovolníky Kosovský deník Fotogalerie Odkazy
Tirana Diary 19 May 1999

Tirana 19 Mai 1999

After I was so happy that at least the infra structure here is now standing (the co-operation agreement we made with the Albanian Youth Council looks good) I decided to spend the daytime visiting some camps in Durres near the sea. I have heard a lot about this big camps so I wanted to see with my own eyes. We drove there with afriend of a friend who is taxidriver so we had a special price. The building of the highway to Durres was started some years, just after the revolution, before there were too less cars in the country to make a highway needed, so the Italians started to help after 1991 (sine from that moment the amount of cars really started to increase like hell). All in all the finished about 20 Km and then it was 1997 and things changed a bit. Result the highway is still 20 km after that it is like a small country road.
The most dangerous drivers on this "highway" and everywhere else are the foreigners, who even don't respect the unwritten laws. One of them, a car from Kosov@ with even a numberplate on it (from Pristina, with the red star (which normally is on the yugoslav numberplates) painted white) had a message that they extually were transporting journalisst from the "bild zeitung" (the most conservative newspaper in germany) nearly had an clash with us. The driver didn't understood that allthough the police is not reacting there are some rules in this country. Otherwise the chaos was even more complete.
Driving along the "highway" you see almost every second or third kilometer some empty houses or empty factory ruins, were small groups of refugees has found them selfs some place to stay. Mostly without water or any sanitation. It really will take a long time before all this places are "found", here along the "highway" it is relative easy, becuase you easily spot them, but elsewhere in the country at the backroads, or what ever it will be much harder.
The port of Durres is like small, not planned for the amount of cargo which is coming in at this moment. Big or small organisations it doesn't matter, all have the simular chaos to cope with. Even that small dutch organisation we found who brought in an old ambulance, which was obvious driven the whole way down. The ambulance was empty, the driver probably had been sleeping in the back during the drive down. Or that VW bus full of plastic bags with clothes. Knowing that fuel in Europe is not cheap and that the boot also cost a few hunderd dollar if you bring in a bus like that I wonder if the cost of bringing it here is not more than the actual cost of the clothes, but we have seen that happening in Bosnia and Croatia as well.
After a walk through the town, finding without any problem the Durres Youth center which will act as our collecting point for new coming volunteers, so people don't have to figure out themselfs how to get to Tirana from Durres and having a look at the old Roman Arena (which is still half dig out) and is been used by the people around is as dumping place for their waste, we ended up at the seaside. So near to the port the water is brown and dirty. About 500 meter out an Albanian military ship was laying. We sat down at a small restuarant which played music from Jethro Tull and other songs of the late 60'ties and early 70'ties. At the moment the food was served some Apache helicopters came over, about 20-30 meters high, coming above the sea they turned and one targeted us and the other followed with their guns a car who was driving at the "boulevar" along the seaside. They flow away and returned about 3 times during the half hour that we were sitting their, following small boats and so. Strange feeling to be used as practicing target.
We finished our lunch and drove to Spitalle a very small village north of Durres, were German, Danish and Italian organisation finished already 3 huge refugee camps and 3 other sites are still under construction. All in all almost 30.000 refugees will live here in a month from now in tent cities. The German camp, almost 5000 refugees, with a note at the gate saying that it can't take in more, look rather well organised. Here there is room for the tents and they are not standing so close together. Although there was police at the gate, the only thing he asked was if I was german (germanjs? or so) and I said "Ja" and could enter the camp. Around the camp there wa no protection, only wires around the expensive pump and mobil water clearification unit. On the back of the camp we find some kids in the dirty water trying to catch a water snake. But this camp probably has less security problems, since you can see people coming from miles. If cars are coming you see them in a big dust cloud, which ofcourse ends up in the camps as well, the dust I mean.
This is the former swamp area, here there was still maleria in the 50'ties before the dried the swamps. The "road" out of Spitalle to the camp goes along one of the cannels used to get the water out of the swamps. Before the driver told us this water was always moving, now since a few years the big pumps are not working anymore, so the water stands still and the air was full of the smell of rotting water. Besides the cannel some people has build some huts, from waste material, this could be like in the outskirts of a big South American Town.
The main income for the people who are living here is the big waste dump from Durres, situated directly next to the German camp, smelling like hell and burning, smoking all the time. We saw a lot of little children playing on the dumpyard, making little fires and so. What can you do. In the camp the German technical group constructed some play ground and a football field. For the rest in the next weeks other things are planned to do here, like a school and social activities, but that still is in planning. The most important thing yet is the construction of more sites.
From here we drove back in the direction of Durres, to the village of Rrashbull, which is situated on both sides of the "highway" to Tirana. On the one side of the road an Italian organisation build a tent village (5000 people) on a factory ground (good protected with a big concrete wall around it, police at the gate, who don't let anybody in, we didn't try, but at least looked that way, good is that the children can't directly run on the "highway", but much place to play they don't have) rather good looking, although the tents are dark green and very close togther, let's hope that no fire will break out there.
On the other side of the road there was a kind of camp runned by a local organisation. They putted up some 400 pakistan tents (which are not waterproof) on a hilly sloop, directly next to the high way. Here there was no security or control at all, not even somebody from the organisation. Due to rain the last week the place was muddy and everywhere between the tents there were big piles of rubbish. Most of the tent had been used, but were empty now, beside from the rubbish and dirty wet matrases. The refugees flied from this camp. Only a few hunderd were left over in real terrible conditions. Half of the tent already broke down are were at the edged of breaking down.
At the moment that we were visiting, also a Kuwait organisation was there spreading out food. Totally unorganised, women came running down the sloop and started to fight around the van in order to get in the front, afraid that there wasn't food for everybody. The Kuwait bank was giving out caps to the children, but that was all what happened for them. We show some groups of boys going through the empty tent trying to find something of there interest. Furtheron they were playing with the tentstick from the empty tents, using them as spears, aiming at some empty plastic bootles in another almost 2 meter high pile of waste between laying between the camp and the closet units, such portosan, which a pump wagen had to empty, but obvious hasn't done for days. The smell was horrible. The organisation which suppose to run this camp is also responsible for the camp in Droja, which IRC has fixed, but still stands empty. I think I am going to inform them what I have seen in Rrashbull.
We drove further back to Durres, unluckly us we ended up behind a huge big truck which obvious was for the first time in Albania. He was afraid to drive on the rightside of the road and drove almost in the middle of it. Causing problems for almost everybody, after our driver used all the Albanian words which are probably not in my small dictonairy for travelers he finally show a change to pass him by at the right side. The poor dutch trucker thought probably that he took the wrong road, on the map it is marked as a nice four lane highway, but the reality is a small, broken road (although the Albanian more or less use it as a 4 lane road, they are overtaking from all directions, it is a wonder that you don't see a frontal accident more often here). 5 Kilometer further we had to pass a strange looking vehicle, kind of huge bike with a construction build around it (to protect the driver from the wheater) and writen on it "Bike tour for Peace, Rome, Tirana, Pristina, Beograd", I wonder how far this biker will come.
Back in Tirana I went to the community meeting from UNHCR, but since that is a whole story on itself I will write about tomorrow. Otherwise this story becomes to long and I can't send via the email system I am using here. By the way Email I got a message from germany today stating that Milosovic wants to close down all the internet connections from Yugoslavia with abroad. I am not surprised, I was already expecting that weeks ago. The message stated furtheron that in the last weeks almost 40.000 people more started to use Email and Internet in Yugoslavia. It is clear again how important the internet is. I sincerly hope that somebody there is capeable to keep open some dail-up connections with the outside world when the big cables will be cut.

wam :-)