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Joost van Beek: Update on Balkan Sunflowers in Albania

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From: "Joost van Beek" <>
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 02:35:36 +0100
Subject: [Balkansunflower-list] Update on Balkan Sunflowers in Albania

Balkan Sunflowers International Volunteer Project to help the Kosovo 
refugees -

Update: Way Stations

     (June 17)

     Balkan Sunflowers
     c/o postfach 1219, D-14806 Belzig
     + 49 33841 30670 (30671 fax)

     Account: SUNFLOWER Accountnr 160 160 1
     Bank Oekobank Frankfurt (Germany)
     BLZ 500 901 00 

     As the latest issues of Wam Kats Tirana Diaries have clearly
     illustrated, the major political developments of the past week
     have changed the entire context in which the Balkan Sunflowers
     initiative operates. The Yugoslav troops are steadily withdrawing
     from Kosovo@ and as KFOR troops move in, in vain the Kosovar
     refugees in Albania and Macedonia are implored to exercise
     patience and wait in the refugee camps until Kosov@ is safe. Many
     of them want to go home and are moving within Albania and
     Macedonia towards the border, or even across the border into
     Kosov@ proper, much quicker than was expected.

     This does not necessarily mean that they will all have left
     Macedonia and Albania by the end of summer. As Kosov@ remains an
     unsafe place where of many families' houses only rubble remains,
     many might still have to spend the winter in Albanian refugee
     camps. The Balkan Sunflowers volunteers will be there to help out
     in any way they can, and if and when it is possible, they might
     also be able to support returning refugees in Kosov@ itself. For
     now however, the biggest challenge refugee relief workers are
     faced with is the trek back: the huge number of Kosovar refugees
     already setting out, or planning to do so, for the Kosovar

     UNHCR and CARE International have initiated a relief effort in
     which many NGO's are now taking part, that will offer practical
     support to the refugees trekking back, setting up a number of
     'Way Stations' along the routes they are taking. In these Way
     Stations "there [will be] petrol, water, technical help for the
     broken cars and tractors. Medical supplies, refreshments and food
     for the people. At each "way station" also a parking lot with
     shade will be provided so that refugees can sleep in their cars
     there as well if they want. Thanks to NATO these places will be
     safeguarded", as Wam Kat reported in his 15/6 Diary entry. 

     The Way Stations will remain in place until September and the
     Balkan Sunflowers volunteers will be there as well. In
     cooperation with the Albanian and Kosov@ Youth Councils they will
     provide "Youth and Children Places" there. These will be special
     playing and creativity places for children, youth and adults.
     They will double as small information centers, answering
     questions about which NGO's provide what kind of assistance in
     Kosov@, as well as informing about how to protect oneself against
     the danger of landmines and unexploded ammunition. 

     Seven to ten volunteers from the Sunflowers and the Youth
     Councils will be in each of the way stations to look after the
     children and teenagers, organising activities and providing
     distractions... We'd like to start at the 22th June with the
     first Way Station and expand our presence with one new Way
     Station each third day (maybe even faster), starting with the way
     stations nearest to Kukes. 

     This means there will be a lot of work to do for Balkan
     Sunflowers volunteers in Albania, and new volunteers will be
     needed to join those already there! If you're going soon, chances
     are that this will be the kind of work you'll be doing.


     In his 15/6 Tirana Diary entry Wam Kat sketched the kind of
     activities the Sunflowers volunteers will be setting up in the
     Way Stations. He wrote about how 

          "to be able to run these children and youth places we need a
          lot of volunteers, every station needs at least five
          international people, plus three Kosovars and two Albanians
          (the last two groups are now settled in, on thursday we will
          have a meeting with the first twentyfive who'd like to
          help). It must be people who can get on their feets as soon
          as a small convoy of tractors arrives and have ideas about
          what you can do, sing songs, do some games, play football or
          volleyball, etc. It will be very different from working in
          camps, since people will only stay there for one night or
          maybe even only half an hour. And new groups will be
          arriving all day long. But it is neccessary that we can give
          those children something to do, to get them active after
          sitting for hours and hours. And to get them away from the
          cars and their parents, when the cars are getting fixed for
          the next part of the exodus. 

          Furthermore it is needed that ideas are created what those
          kids can do on their journey. Maybe we can provide childrens
          books or lists of questions they have to answer before they
          come to the next station. An advantage of doing activities
          in these "way stations" is that almost all Kosovars will
          pass through them in the next two and a half months. They
          will travel over the golden, the copper and the silver road,
          these next few days NATO and the Albanian government will
          mark the roads, NATO won't be able to repair all those roads
          in time, but still people will travel. Our volunteers in the
          camps are also explaining that the movement from the camps
          is starting, not big yet, but lots of people are already
          talking about it. One major problem is at this moment what
          the Russians will do. The Kosovars don't want to return to
          Kosov@ when Russian troops have to safeguard them, "Russians
          are just Serbs in camouflage" is what people say."


     The Way Stations are being set up by a number of cooperating
     NGO's. What are the specifics about this project? Here's the
     details and definitions about who does what and where exactly.

     In co-operation with UNHCR, CARE International has undertaken the
     set-up of seven Way Stations in Albania to assist returning
     Kosovars, specifically those travelling by tractors and
     slow-moving vehicles. Simply defined, a Way Station is a stopping
     place where travelers can receive food and water, use sanitary
     facilities, receive basic medical attention, and transportation
     vehicles can receive gasoline. Way stations are not designed to
     provide overnight accommodations, except in the case of refugees
     travelling by tractors - secure parking spots are available where
     travelers may sleep in their vehicles. It is anticipated that the
     average stop will be for 20 minutes to an hour. 

     The Way Stations will be strategically located to serve tractors
     and slow moving vehicles along two routes. Each station will be
     approximately 50-60 kilometers apart, approximately one day's
     ride, along an interior and a coastal route from the south, as
     well as a west to east route toward Kukes. 


     Three Way Stations have already been established on the west to
     east road from Mjeda to Kukes. 


          the midway point for travelers on the coastal route, as 
          well as a stop for train and bus transports. More extensive 
          services are provided at the station, including a large     
          transit centre. The way station for vehicles will be 
          located alongside the transit center.(135 km from Kukes) 

          the first stop along the west to east route, serving 
          vehicles from both the Northwest and the south (98 
          km from Kukes)          

          the final stop before Kukes for all vehicles travelling 
          from the north and south (32 km from Kukes). 

     Four additional Way Stations will be established by June 20th on
     two routes from the Southern regions: 

          Mamurras area (Lac ?): the first stopping point for self -
          mobile (by tractor, car, etc.) refugees travelling North
          along the coastal route; Lezhe: the second stop on the
          coastal route; Rreshen: the second stop after Mamurras for
          travelers on the interior route; Gojan: the third stop
          along the interior route. 


     Each Way Station will have standard services, except at the Mjeda
     location where it will operate in conjunction with the transit
     centers to provide more comprehensive services. The basic
     offerings will include first aid, vehicle repair and recovery,
     water and sanitation, limited food and non-food items, lost and
     found and basic vulnerable care. As mentioned previously, the
     stations will also provide a secure place for vehicles to park
     for the night, however sleeping accommodations will not be

     CARE's ROLE 

     CARE International will serve as site manager for the Way
     Stations. CARE will be responsible for identifying and
     negotiating for the location, setting up the station, hiring and
     organizing staff to marshal traffic, maintenance of site
     infrastructure, garbage collection, co-ordination logistics,
     serving as liaison with UNHCR and NATO, and the fundamental
     management activities (record keeping, reporting etc.)
     Additionally, CARE will be co-ordinating the activities of
     partner NGOs to ensure the effective delivery of services. 


     A number of NGO partners have provided their services for the
     first three stations including GOAL, HCC, Concern, THW, Northwest
     Medical and IMC. However, additional partners may also be needed
     for the new stations in areas such as: -food and water
     distribution -first aid -vulnerable services -simple lighting at
     the camps (erecting and maintaining ) -latrine building , etc. In
     cooperation with the Albanian Youth Council and the Kosova Youth
     Council Balkan Sunflowers will add to each Way Station special
     playing and creativity places for children, youth and adults, as
     well as a kind of small information center for information what
     kind of NGO's people can contact in Kosovo for what kind of help,
     information about what to do when you see landmines or unexploded


     Message from Wam, 17/6:

     At this moment the help from volunteers is more needed than
     before, the people are on the road and they will end up in a few
     weeks in refugee camps in Kosov@, and then sunflowers also have
     to be there. All the well-coordinated camps here in Albania,
     which have been built in the past eight weeks will be almost
     empty. The refugees which will stay over the winter are planned
     to be brought to the few winterised camps, and there Sunflowers
     just have started the work. So please spread that news that we

     Especially also to do the so-called way stations about which I
     was sending information yesterday. They will be in place till the
     end of September probably and will also be erected in Kosov@ in
     the coming weeks, we need a lot of people for them, and for the
     collection centers which will be at the both sides of the
     Albanian/Kosov@ border. Most other organisations who are doing
     social work are stuck in the already existing camps (from where
     refugees are leaving) and therefore these camps will have no
     people to do anything. 

     What's more, these are also the places from where people will
     return to their homes and so here contacts can be made for new
     Sunflower activities in Kosov@.


     The Way Stations projects poses its own challenges to the Balkan
     Sunflowers organisation in terms of material needs as well. A
     specific "wish-list" listing the items needed most has therefore
     been drawn up. If you think you can help please look it through
     and see what you might be able to provide us with. Ideally we are
     looking for donations from or through other NGO's, as their
     access to transport networks of their own would greatly
     facilitate getting the goods to where they are needed.


For each Way Station we need:

one large activity tent 

two small tents for volunteers to sleep in (as they will be on duty 
for one till three weeks) 

paper, paint, siccors, clay, etc. for 5000 children 

money for building materials for a playground (app. $750) 

tables and banks 10 foot-, volley- and basketballs 

a notice board 

small toys (also to give away) 

information kits on mine-awareness (optional)          

cassette recorder to play music 

video equipment to show videos about mine-awareness 

For the overall coordination we also need: 

          1 Minibus for transport of materials (plus fuel) 
          1 Minibus for transport of volunteers (plus fuel) 
          Money to produce a weekly infopaper (app. $1000 per month)
          Money for overall coordination (app. $1000 per month) 

     The minibuses could afterwards be donated to the Kosova and
     Albanian Youth Councils for their activities.

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