Alban Bytyqi is head of the humedica children daycare center in Kosovo. Photo: humedica
Hopeless and desperate
An interview with the head of the humedica daycare center in Kosovo, Alban Bytyqi
In Kosovo more and more people are packing their belongings and leave their country, heading for Western Europe. They are also carrying with them the hope for a better life, which their country, shaken by poverty and unemployment, cannot offer them.
We have talked to Alban Bytyqi, head of the humedica children daycare center in the south of Kosovo about the motivation behind the current exodus and have learned about the reasons, why people are fleeing, even if they have nearly no chance to be granted asylum.
Can you tell us anything about the current economic and social situation in Kosovo? How do people earn their money?
I think that the current economic situation is worse than it has ever been, since the end of the war in 1999. After the war, people were hoping for an economic surge, a better life. Nobody thought about leaving the country. There were even people coming back to Kosovo from other European countries because they supposed that they would find a better future for them and their children here.
In the last six months, many Kosovars have become so desperate that they have left the country without any precise aim. They take their families, their small children, sell everything they own and hope that they will get something to eat elsewhere. The few people who still have a job here, mostly work in the building sector or in agriculture.
Here, where I live, people live of market gardening peppers, tomatoes or potatoes. But their income of about 250 Euros is not enough for a living. Even teachers only earn 350 Euros a month. It simply isn’t enough to feed a family.
Who is most concerned by this situation?
The bad conditions strike nearly everyone. The current unemployment rate is of 50 percent, I think. That’s crazy! Of course, the lower class and the welfare recipients suffer most. The families in which nobody can find work anymore are very desperate.
Does this situation have consequences on the social relationships?
Well, if a whole generation of youth doesn’t see any future in their own country anymore and takes advantage of every slightest chance to get away from here, it surely has consequences on the social life. And there are also many negative side effects. Everywhere the people are hopeless and desperate. Nobody is looking forward into their future without being worried.
In the humedica children daycare center the situation is still ok. Up to now, no children have left the country with their families. But other places in Kosovo have been seriously struck by the illegal exodus to Western Europe. In the last three months alone, more than 60,000 people have left.
For some years already, the situation in Kosovo has been bad. Why have so many people decided to escape just now? What do they expect of Western Europe?
I think, the people don’t expect anything at all. They have no expectations but the hope that anyone may have pity with them and enable them a better life. By most of them, the escape via Serbia and Hungary is seen as their last chance. Only when they have arrived there, they decide how to continue their way best, in order not to be caught. Some of them are aware from the beginning of the fact that they will be caught, but even this doesn’t prevent them from trying. It’s really terrible.
And they do this, even if most of them know that they hardly have any chance to be offered asylum in countries like Germany or Austria…
Yes, it is paradox. Seeing it logically, running away doesn’t make any sense at all. But I think that is the consequence of lacking prospects in Kosovo. The government tries to convince the people to stay, explaining that they will be even poorer than they have been before leaving, when they will come back to Kosovo after a failed escape. Hopefully this warning is going to work.
You have been lucky and got a stable job. Now you have even decided to get married. Are you not afraid that the bad economic situation will also hit your future family one day?
Yes, that’s true. With my job for humedica I have been very lucky and I can't wait to get married in May. Of course, I am also thinking about the future of my family. It would be naive not to face the facts. But I am a Christian and I believe that God will turn things for the better. I pray that my family will not be hit by the crisis.
In your opinion, how will the situation in Kosovo develop?
This is difficult to say. I think that sooner or later all refugees will be obliged to come back. This will even worsen the situation here. I hope that the government is aware of their obligation to create new jobs and to support poor families better. I don’t know how this could be done and we can only wait and see what will happen. Whatever will happen, a bad feeling is still there.
Thank you very much for these insights. Good luck to you and the people in Kosovo.
With varied help measures humedica tries to improve the living conditions in Kosovo and to offer the people an alternative to fleeing. Please, support this commitment with a directed donation and become part of the precious help for people who have innocently got into distress. Thank you very much!
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