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article imageYugoslavia lives on in Kosovo time capsule

By Carolyn E. Price     Jan 18, 2007 in World
More than a decade after Yugoslavia shattered into separate countries along ethnic lines its multiculturalism survives. In a mental institute.
More than a decade after Yugoslavia shattered into separate countries along ethnic lines its multiculturalism survives. In a mental institute.
All of the languages and dialects of the former Yugoslavia can still be heard at the Stimlje mental health institute in Kosovo. Most of the residents have been in Stimlje for at least 15 years. They arrived as citizens of one country, and have lived in isolation as Yugoslavia disintegrated and more than 130,000 were killed in wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.
"The patients came here when Yugoslavia was still alive," says the director, Kujtim Xhelili. "So we have Serbs from Kosovo, from Serbia, from Vojvodina, Croats from Croatia. We have Albanians, Macedonians, Roma, Muslims from Bosnia."
Kosovo's Albanian majority and the Serb minority have settled more or less into a tense segregation. Formally, Kosovo is still a part of Serbia. However, it is fun by a UN protectorate under a UN-appointed governor Serbia's 1998-99 counter-insurgency war killed 10,000 Albanians and forced nearly one million out of the country. Tens of thousands of Serbs fled revenge attacks as the United Nations took control. Both sides remain bitter and suspicious of each other and tensions are rising. A decision is imminent as to whether the Albanian majority will gain independence. The decision is expected within months.
The hospital is more than 50-years old and looks just like one of the underfunded Soviet-era mental hospitals you've seen in the news and movies. For just 150 euros per month, dozens of Albanians provide 24-hour care for more than 100 patients from the former Yugoslavia, the majority of whom are Serbs. Fortunately, many of the residents remain almost blissfully unaware of the world outside their dreary and dilapidated bubble.
During the war, the Serb workers at the hospital, fled in the faco of NATO bomb and troops. They abandoned the institute in June 1999 when Serb forces, under late strongman Slobodan Milosevic, pulled out. The buildings were looted and the patients left to fend for themselves until the arrival of the Norwegian Red Cross
The institute, the only one of its kind in Kosovo, has closed its doors to new patients as part of a transition to a kind of 'care in the community' programme.
More about Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Mental, Institute
 
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