Almost a million people fled Kosovo during the 1996-9 war, creating one of Europe’s worst refugee crises. When families returned, they found their homes looted and some burned to the ground. With schools and livelihoods destroyed, families were faced with rebuilding their lives. We’re now working with local communities to help offer seasonal relief.
With so many men killed during the war in Kosovo and without adequate training and education, female-headed households struggle to provide for themselves. Having lost family members and witnessed scenes of intense violence, many women and children have been left psychologically traumatised.
Now almost two decades later and following the unilateral Declaration of Independence in 2008, the economy is growing steadily. However, high poverty and unemployment rates – particularly amongst Kosovo’s youth and female unofficial labour force – continue to make life incredibly difficult for many families.
Life in Kosovo is a huge challenge for many people:
- Around 30% of Kosovars live in poverty (UNDP, 2017)
- 8% of the population live in extreme poverty on less than €1.02 (90p) a day (the Republic of Kosova, 2011)
- Almost one-third of the population is unemployed (UNDP, 2017)
- 58% of young people (aged 15 – 24) are out of work (UNDP, 2017)
Islamic Relief in Kosovo
We began post-war relief and reconstruction in Kosovo in 1999, aiming to help families become self-sufficient and get back to normality.
As well as supporting orphans as part of our ongoing 1:1 sponsorship programme, we have also run microfinance programmes offering small interest-free loans to single mothers, enabling them to begin their own businesses and support themselves and their children in the long-term. We subsequently ran a mine awareness project, to help prevent injury and loss of life caused by these dangerous weapons left during the brutal war. In addition, our worked included rebuilding homes, schools, and infrastructure, distributing medicine and running psychosocial programmes to treat traumatised victims.
Having lost family members who provided financial stability during conflict, our work is now focussed on poverty relief. We continue to provide season support including winter relief (food, firewood, blankets and wooden stoves) and food assistance during Ramadan and Qurbani.