steve rhodes on Wed, 12 May 1999 18:18:19 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Reporting from Kosovo

Steven Erlanger of the New York Times has been the only U.S.
reporter besides Paul Watson of the LA Times to 
spend substantial time in Kosovo since the bombing began.
An interview with him that was on NPR follows the list
of stories.

Paul Watson's stories are at

 The stories Erlanger filed from Kosovo include
(free registration is required to read them):

 Kosovo's Ravaged Capital Staggers Back to Half Life
 by Steven Erlanger, New York Times   (5-5-99)
 Doctor Sees Warfare Etched in Flesh
 by Steven Erlanger, New York Times  (5-6-99)
 Kosovo Town's Tale of Betrayal and Massacre
 by Barry Bearak, New York Times  (5-6-99)

 For Soldier and Civilian Both, Tension Rules
 by Steven Erlanger, New York Times  (5-7-99)

 Milosevic Aide on Kosovo Urges Albanians to Return
 by Steven Erlanger, New York Times  (5-8-99)

 An Albanian Family in Kosovo, War Scarred, Struggles On Among the Serbs
 by Steven Erlanger, New York Times  (5-9-99)

 Torn by War, a Town Works to Recover
 by Steven Erlanger, New York Times  (5-10-99)

 In One Kosovo Woman, an Emblem of Suffering 
 by Steven Erlanger, New York Times  (5-12-99)

 His piece on one of the employees of Serbian TV who was killed is
 also worth reading.  There also was a story on the three people
 killed in the Chinese Embasy.  I haven't seen other stories
 like these in the U.S. press.

 Ordinary Man Is Caught in NATO Missile's Path
 by Steven Erlanger, New York Times  (5-2-99)

 The Chinese Mourn Dead and Raise Questions
 by Carlotta Gall, New York Times  (5-11-99)

There was a seven and half minute interview with him on National 
Public Radio in the U.S.  You can listen to it in real audio or read the transcript. 


May 11, 1999, Tuesday 

LENGTH: 940 words 




The stated goal of the NATO bombing campaign against 
Yugoslavia is to stop Serb attacks against ethnic 
Albanians in Kosovo and provide for the safe return of the refugees.
Most relief agencies, aid workers and Western reporters left Kosovo 
before the bombing began. Few have been allowed back in so there's 
not much reliable information on what is happening there.

Steven Erlanger of The New York Times was allowed in to Kosovo 
and has just returned to Belgrade. What were the
circumstances of your visit? Were you on your own? 

Mr. STEVEN ERLANGER (The New York Times): Essentially, yes. I got 
permission from the Army to go down to Kosovo in my own car with 
my own translator. I needed Army permission to get down there, but 
once I was there, because I had the right papers, I was allowed to 
go basically anywhere I wanted. Once in a while, police in different 
places shooed me away from certain scenes or discouraged me from 
talking to certain people, mostly refugees waiting by the side of 
the road, but this was very much hit or miss, so in an odd way, 
there was much more freedom of movement I
felt as a journalist in Kosovo than in Belgrade. 

EDWARDS: Now tell me about the ethnic Albanians still living in 
Kosovo. What shape are they are in? 

Mr. ERLANGER: Well, there are quite a lot of them. I mean, even 
under UNHCR figures, there are still probably 1.2 million Albanians 
inside Kosovo. Some of them are displaced. Some of them have
gone back to their homes. Some of them have never left. They're 
just kind of living as quietly as possible. There's a great deal of 
fear and anxiety. One should never underestimate that. The first
two, three weeks of this campaign were truly horrible and many evil 
things happened. But there was also a great deal of mass panic. I 
think the Serbs did manipulate that panic and stampeded lots of
people, but you talk to a lot of Albanians who remain, who say 
that no one ever came to their door, they were never threatened, 
but they heard lots of stories. And many of the people who heard those
stories left. 

So now what you have, because I think the Serbs are preparing the 
world for some sort of settlement--you have a kind of impression of 
normality in Pristina itself, and it's the fake normality but
I think the storm there has essentially passed. It's not necessarily 
true of other parts of Kosovo, particularly the city of Prizren where 
Albanians are still being pushed out to the Albanian border
which is only about 10 miles away. And it is also true that a lot of
Albanians also ave a fear of the bombing. NATO keeps insisting that, 
you know, the bombing which goes on all the time down there
and the noise of the planes which are like drilled in your brain, 
have no effect on anyone whatsoever which is clearly nonsense. 

I talked to a lot of Albanians who were fleeing, in part because 
their neighborhood had been bombed. Most Albanians I've spoke to
 are just very eager to have it over. They're very eager to
have an international force there to protect them and they're 
rather less discerning about whether it's run by a NATO general or 
run by somebody else. They just want somebody there between them
and the Serbs and if possible very soon. 

EDWARDS: What evidence did you see of the NATO bombing and of the
destruction the Serbs brought? 

ERLANGER: Well, you see massive examples of both. Let's start with 
the Serbs. Thousands of houses have been torched and burned. Whole 
villages have been depopulated.  There are packs of wild dogs roaming 
the villages, there are dead animals lining the sides of the roads. In 
most of the big cities, the Albanian commercial areas have been 
trashed and looted. You see spray-painted signs on
shops and houses that try to protect them that say Serbia' or 
say Gypsy House,' and in a town, let's say, like Pec, every house 
that isn't so spray-painted has been burned or destroyed. 

So you see a massive revenge against the Albanians who were the 
majority in the province and remain so, and one really feels
that the Serbs set out to cut back Albanian wealth and power and
influence, and there was a real feeling, particularly I think 
in the first two weeks, of a lot of revenge.

There was also, one must say, you know, the KLA was trying to 
run Kosovo. I mean, there was a war there also and some of the 
damage you see comes from firefights with the KLA early in this, you
know, bombing campaign. However, the effort to clean out the KLA 
and its supporters has had extraordinary consequences and, as I say, 
I think a lot of evil has happened, particularly in the
villages, where there's a very strong smell of death and where, 
every once in a while, you run into a Yugoslav army checkpoint. 

You don't really know what's behind it. It could be a bunch of 
soldiers; it could be something else,
but you know, you do feel there the kind of eerie sense of death. On the
NATO side, you know, they're bombing all the time. I mean, almost 
every bridge has been hulled, it's--highways have been
smashed. Almost all the petrol, the gasoline facilities in the 
province are gone, the airport has been destroyed. A lot of fixed 
targets have been hit. You also see, obviously, examples of NATO's
collateral damage of bombs that go astray or hit the wrong target. 
It's a place that feels a little bit out of hell. 

EDWARDS: What about food, shelter, water, the basics? 

Mr. ERLANGER: Well, in the cities, by and large, now they've 
restored electricity and water, particularly in Pristina. It's 
very difficult since there's no gasoline to move goods around. 
And, for example, bread--they're now selling about--or giving 
out about 100,000 loaves of bread a day in Pristina, which is 
probably the best indication of how many people actually live there 
now. Because people have been coming back. They have repaired 
the water supply and the electricity supply but it's intermittent. 
The real problem are in the villages because many of the villages 
are actually hooked up to the main electricity and water supplies. 
And without a lot of electricity, there's very little water
pumping, so you do have a real water problem in the villages. 

I went to see Albanians in villages who actually never left but who 
have no way of getting anywhere, except donkey carts; who don't have 
a lot of money since nothing's working; who are running out of
flour; who haven't seen meat of any kind for three or four months. 
And, you know, it's an agricultural place so there's vegetables and 
there is bread. People aren't starving, but with the bombing, it is also
true that it's very dangerous on the roads, and it is not a place 
where one would easily and happily travel with, you know, canned 
goods from one place to the next. 

EDWARDS: Steven Erlanger is a reporter for The New York Times. He just
returned to Belgrade from Kosovo. 

Steve Rhodes

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