Aracinovo became well-known as the site of one of the battles between the Macedonian security forces and militant extremists of NLA. In a few days, most of the 10,000 people who used to live there before the conflict were displaced from their homes. But the face of this deserted village began to change again when the inhabitants were allowed to return on July 29th, since when at least 4,000 have gone back. Most of these are males who went to assess the damage to their houses and to prepare the return of the other members of their families. But some people are afraid to return. Up to now, only three out of 300 ethnic Macedonian families have returned.
Re-establishing normal life in Aracinovo is not going to be an easy task. There is still no power supply. One consequence of this is that there is a lack of water, as the electric pumps do not work. Skopje`s public water company brings water every day in three or four tankers. People have started to clean up the damage caused by the bombardment. One of the first priorities for the ethnic Albanians was to begin repairs to the oldest mosque in the village.
The first reconstruction aid kits were delivered on August 2nd. This consisted of mattresses, kitchen sets, small plastic jerry cans, and hygiene parcels from the UNHCR. More than 1,000 plastic sheets were also distributed by MCIC in consultation with the municipality.
These humanitarian activities are no easy process. The
ethnic Macedonians say they have lost their trust in the local authorities.
The Mayor, Reshat Ferati, is trying to to rebuild that trust. But he is
under pressure from his own community about the sensitive issue of access
to humanitarian aid.
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