Stories and reports

Life is returning to the deserted village of Aracinovo

Skopje, August 3rd, 2001

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.

There was certain symbolism about all this. The reconstruction started on August 2nd which is the National Day of Macedonia, in an ethnically mixed village, in cooperation between an international agency (UNHCR), a local NGO and the local authority.

First distribution starts
In the front of the municipality - the information board of ACT-MCIC water project with bullet holes and a UNHCR truck with aid
Water tankers are the only water supply
The Mosque is the one of first priorities for reconstruction of the local population
Violeta and Lazo Nikolovski, the first ethnic Macedonian returnees to Aracinovo receiving aid
Mayor Reshat Ferati with MCIC and UNCHR teams
[Hold cursor over pictures for detailed description]

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