The Balkans Truce: In The Camps - New refugees report more Serb killings

PERHAPS THE diplomats in European capitals were sipping champagne. No one here would begrudge them that. But a day after the much-heralded Kosovo peace agreement, things on the ground along the Kosovo-Albanian border had changed little.

Nato warplanes continued to bomb Kosovo. Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters continued to engage in close-range combat with Serb forces in border villages near the Albanian frontier, showing no sign of giving up their weapons or their struggle.

But most of all, the refugees themselves continued to live in squalor. They were optimistic, as always, but realistic, too. Not a single one of them would give a deutschmark for Slobodan Milosevic's signature. And few of them expect to be back in their homeland this year. They want to see real Nato soldiers here - and they want to see them soon.

KLA spokesmen moved to reassure them that they would provide the backbone of a new army and police force for the province. One KLA man, Kadri Kryeziu, promised big changes when the Serb forces leave. "We will have a new constitution that will guarantee the human rights of everyone, regardless of ethnic origin, creed or colour. Serbs who didn't support Milosevic's fascism will have their security and rights guaranteed".

Almost in the next breath, however, Mr Kryeziu predicted that "100 per cent of the Serbs will leave Kosovo when Milosevic falls".

The aid effort would have to be massive and quick he said, but promised: "Kosovars have a culture of hard work. We will rebuild. Under the Serbs, they controlled us. In my city, Prizren, there were 95 per cent Albanians and 5 per cent Serbs. But they controlled everything. If your Serb neighbour wasn't with the Serb secret police, his sister was.

"Now, we will rebuild a new country in freedom, better than before. We have a land rich in natural resources. This tragedy will leave deep psychological scars, but throughout history we have been a people who get over tragedies quickly. We have resisted many occupying forces. We resisted this one.

"The Kosovar people would have triumphed. Thanks to Nato, Bill Clinton and, particularly, Tony Blair, we will triumph sooner than we could have done on our own.

"On behalf of myself and the people of Kosovo, we deeply thank Nato and especially Tony Blair. We thank him very much. And we are a people who never forget any goodness shown towards us."

A day after the peace deal, Nato, UN and international aid officials here were in a state of total confusion. A few refugees with relatives in camps farther south got into UN buses to join them. But most refugees said they would prefer to stay here, turning the UN relocation plan on its head.

"I don't think we can abandon our winterisation plan," said a senior official of the UN High Commission for Refugees, referring to the plan to get the refugees to the warmer south-western lowlands before the onset of the bitter winter weather. But most refugees here said they would now prefer to stay. Of a planned convoy of at least 20 tractors and trailers and more than 200 people, due to head to the safer camps in south-west Albania yesterday with a Nato escort, only five tractors left.

Peace deal or no, more than 130 Kosovars crossed into Albania yesterday, telling tales of continuing massacres and the imprisonment of men of fighting age. They said that the Serbs had brought up to 800 new prisoners to the big Smerkovnice jail in mid-week, replacing those who had been freed and allowed to cross to Albania over the past two weeks.

A group of 14 refugees, including women, who arrived here yesterday, confirmed there had been a massacre in the Tusus district of the Kosovo town of Prizren last week, in which they said 50 of their neighbours had been killed.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own