War In the Balkans - Refugees: Banished go back to help

THERE ARE many people ready to help the battered, anguished refugees of Kosovo: UN officials, eager foreign aid workers, Christian missionaries, local home-owners, even (occasionally) journalists.

But none give as much as those refugees who themselves minister to the sick, the wounded and to others in distress.

Since the deportations began on 25 March, dozens of doctors, nurses and assorted helpers expelled at gunpoint from their homes in Kosovo have returned to work, manning the medical tents raised around Kukes by the big agencies, or the clinics set up in decrepit public buildings.

The Sun even tried to buy one of these quiet heroes - Dr Flori Bakalli, who sprang to fame by treating a 10-year-old boy who survived a massacre in Kosovo.

"They wanted me to keep it a secret, but I said I had already told the story to all the other journalists," Dr Bakalli said with a grin. Dr Bakalli was on duty in casualty at the state hospital in Djakovica, in western Kosovo, when the Nato air strikes began.

Within days, he was forced out of the city with his wife and baby. "It was systematic. They had a plan of what to burn and when to burn it," he says.

But 24 hours after reaching Albania, he donned a Medecins du Monde vest and went back to the border, where the French-based aid body set up an emergency clinic in a couple of large white tents less than 200 yards from the Serbian guns. "I realised I could not live just like a refugee. And then it was for my baby, because we left the town without any money, nothing. And one reason was the people in need," Dr Bakalli says of his decision to work in Kukes.

It is also a distraction from the pain of memory. "I have no time to think about depression, no time to think about what happened then. I don't have time to talk to people from Kosovo about what happened," he said. "Maybe later I will realise."

Kenan Idrizaj, another Kosovar volunteer, has no medical training but says it is important that at least one Kosovar meets the newest, sickest refugees.

"Yesterday came one woman from Djakovica," he said. "I told her, I am like you, my house is burnt. She has the same pain and I know where to touch her. I am not a doctor, but our pain is the same."

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam