Kosovo Refugees Find Shelter in Swimming Pool
Posted April 14, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
TIRANA, ALBANIA — About 314,000 refugees are in Albania and tens of thousands of them are in Tirana. Some have taken up residence in private homes, but many have found other ways to live.
For years, a truck was used on the family farm on a tiny mountain village in Kosovo. Now, the family lives in the truck.
The grandparents, the parents and the children try to make it as home-like as possible. It is something you have to do when ethnic hatred forces you from your home and forces you to live in a refugee camp.
"We have put our trust in American, the states, and in NATO, and we expect America and NATO will employ ground troops with enough effect that we have great hopes that we will go back to Kosovo," said a refugee.
Some refugees forced from their homes are living in trucks, and at the "Swimming Pool Camp," they are living well compared to most who live in tents at the camp.
Relief agencies have turned what used to be a municipal swimming complex into a home for the refugees of Kosovo.
"The conditions are not nice. The rain comes inside the tent, and it is very cold especially at night," said another refugee.
If the rain is bad, the numbers are worse. Fifteen people call one tent home.
Still, all over the camp, people show a tremendous will to carry on.
What used to be the bath house, is now the water supply. Men with construction skills are turning the old changing room into a kitchen to cook their own food.
But nearly everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, shares the story of why they are there.
"The Serb police came to our house and said 'out of your house' and 'don't live in this place because you don't belong here. You belong to Albania,'" said one refugee.
There are no names for the refugees WRAL talked to because most of them fear some sort of pay-back from the Serb para-military.