War in the Balkans: Aid Effort - `We are only trying to help'
Tuesday 06 April 1999
For the past couple of hours Private Smith, 23, had been on his feet passing over boxes of army rations containing food for 24 hours, 6,000 calories of it. Before that he delivered boxes to those too tired to queue, lying in hastily erected 10-man tents. Before that - during the night - he had been helping put up those tents.
He had had no more than two hours' sleep in the past two days and it showed. "Things seem to be working a bit better now," said Private Smith, from 2nd Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. "At first people were apprehensive, very wary of us. Now they realise we are only trying to help."
At the camp at Brazde, the tented city that has grown indays on the edge of the Macedonian capital, Skopje, there are hundreds of British troops and their Nato comrades at the forefront of the humanitarian effort to help Kosovo's refugees.
Private Smith's friend, L/Cpl Robin Ball, looked equally drawn. "I have been involved before with refugees but never anything on this scale," he said. "Nothing can prepare you for having to deal with this.
"It's amazing that these people are still so proud - I was handing out pieces of chicken earlier and they were so careful not to get any on their clothes. I suppose they were wearing all they had."
About 5,000 refugees have arrived at Brazde and the nearby camp at Stankovic in two days, bused in from the border a few miles away after days spent being processed. They are desperate and terrified. Many are seriously unwell.
"Some have walked 50 miles in their socks so you can imagine what state their feet are in," said Captain Matt Humphries, who is running the field hospital. "Many are terribly dehydrated so we have saline drips for them. The more serious cases are taken by ambulance into town."
His medical team can do little about the mental state of the refugees. As Capt Humphries spoke, other medics were trying to help a man lying on the ground nearby, crying hysterically as he clutched a handful of documents tight to his chest.
But everyone had stories of terror - of being forced from their homes, of walking to the border then encountering the heavy-handed Macedonian security forces.
"They treat us like dogs," said Mihrie Pantinor, a grandmother from a village near Pristina, sitting outside her wind-whipped nylon tent. "They are as bad as the Yugoslavs. Why do they do it to us?" Asked about her son and husband, Mrs Pantinor erupted in tears. "I have not seen them for weeks," she managed to say. "I don't know if they are alive or dead."
Muran Prizron, 23, a student from Pristina, had also been forced from his home by the militia. "It was like a dream, what I have seen," he said. "Burning - houses and villages burning, and many, many, many children all crying." The refugees are glad to be safe but know their future is uncertain. "Where would I like to go?" retorted Mr Prizron. "What options do you think I have?
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 'Hello mum, this is going to be hard for you to read ...'
Sally Farmiloe dead: Howards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, dies aged 60
Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
Justin Bieber posts Instagram photo of Orlando Bloom crying after Ibiza fight 'over Miranda Kerr'
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: PHP Develope...