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02 February 2016

The beauty of a country lies in its people

In September 2015, Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro were declared to be safe countries of origin. According to Article 16a of the German Basic Law, in these countries “neither political persecution nor inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment exists”. We spoke with Linda Sada, Director of our partner organisation Medica Gjakova in Kosovo, about the lack of hope among young people in her country and her wishes for the future.

Kosovo as a safe country of origin – what do you say about that?

In Kosovo there is neither terrorism nor acute danger to life. However, unemployment is at 40 per cent. The figure is 50 per cent for women. It is the young people in Kosovo who find it particularly hard to get a job. And compared to other European countries, Kosovo has a young population. This is true despite a high level of training, so they are leaving the country to try their luck elsewhere. Many men have to leave in order to find work and feed their families. I wonder how our towns and villages will develop when a large number of their young people leave. What will it be like for those who remain, when half of the houses in the village are empty? The beauty of a country lies in its people, after all.

Many women are also leaving the country. What role does sexualised violence play in that?

Domestic violence is closely related to economic factors. The precarious situation faced by many families reinforces the tensions in everyday life and many men react to this with violence against women and girls. This was and still is a problem in Kosovo. At the same time, women are now better informed about their rights and they are fighting back.

Are there enough points of contact for survivors in Kosovo?

No, in fact there are only three organisations, one of which is Medica Gjakova. There is a need for more. We support women in Gjakova and the surrounding area. It would also be important to have more projects, since some women need a different choice. They might have trouble talking openly if they know the counsellors personally. Recently we had six men come to us for help because they had experienced sexualised violence. They did not want to go to the organisations we referred them to because they knew the staff there. It was better for them to confide in people they don’t know.

What are your hopes for the future?

A society without violence against women. For survivors in Kosovo: I want our society to recognise the injustice done to them and to make amends. For my country: I would like less corruption and better economic development. I want to see Kosovo as part of Europe – including freedom of movement. Perhaps one reason so many are leaving this country is because they have no other way to see the rest of Europe for themselves?