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Site Profiles: Interviewee Areas of Kosovo

Southwestern Pristina Municipality- Gracanica, Preoce, Livadje, Laplje Selo & Caglavica
Site Profiles: Gracanica | Preoce | Livadje

Southwestern Pristina Municipality- Gracanica, Preoce, Livadje, Laplje Selo & Čaglavica

Location

Gracanica is the economic and cultural focal point of central Kosovo’s Roma and Serb communities. The village lies nine kilometers south of Pristina- 13 kilometers by road. Laplje Selo lies roughly 5 kilometers west of Gracanica, connected by a badly-maintained asphalt track. Čaglavica lies a further two kilometers north of Laplje Selo. Livadje lies several kilometers south of Laplje Selo on a little-used road that eventually leads to Donja Gušterica and Janjevo. Preoce is situated two kilometers further west of Laplje Selo, on the other side of the Pristina- Skopje ‘highway’; this road functions as an exclusionary barrier, and is evident in Preoce’s economic condition. Preoce, however, is directly assessable to Kosovo Polje- namely the minority areas of Bresje and Ugljare- via a road constructed by KFOR in 2000.

A remote-controlled mine killed the first two Serbs that used this road- on the day it opened.

Security & Transportation

Southwestern Pristina municipality’s population lives under constant guard and constant threat from surrounding Albanian communities. The security situation has calmed; attacks against minorities have become less frequent- and more organized. Following the 1999 war’s end, farmers had their animals mutilated, their equipment stolen, and their haystacks burned. Others were shot down in their fields- most notably the massacre of 14 Serb farmers in nearby Staro Gracko, Lipljan/ Lipjan in August of 1999. UNHCR (now UNMIK) minority-transport buses were repeatedly stoned (and sometimes worse, in the forms of gunshots and RPGs) en route from one minority area to another.  

Near Livadje lies Skulanevo; a few days from the time of this writing, a Serb resident there went fishing and was shot in the mouth.

Ashkalija in this region have fewer security issues due to language. 15 Ashkalija families recently returned to the Vranjevac neighborhood of Pristina city.  

Security within these interconnected villages is now stable, as is access to minority-owned agricultural land. Swedish KFOR provides security, and is popular with the community- much more so than the British, who initially secured this area in June of 1999.* The British marked their arrival with late-night home raids in search of weapons. Few were found.  

Serbs and Roma present in these villages cannot leave the area. Freedom of movement for Roma has slightly improved; for Serbs, it has not. The Swedes have disabled the checkpoints that monitored traffic through Gracanica, on the Pristina- Gnjilane/ Gjilan ‘highway’; no serious security incidents have occurred since.

KFOR provides escorts for monthly convoys from Gracanica to Brezovica (Štrpce municipality) and Velika Hoća (Orahovac/ Rahovec municipality). KFOR also provides biweekly escorts from Gracanica to the Serbian border- Gate 3/ Medare ( Podujevo Municipality ). KFOR and UNMIK police provide medical escorts from Gracanica and outlying areas to the Gracanica ambulanta, Gracanica’s Simonieda hospital, the Russian hospital in Kosovo Polje, and primary facilities in North Mitrovica . Serbs and Roma do not have access to majority community health facilities in Pristina.  

Memorial for the dead:
Vlastimir Miric & Slavisa Dimic

Economy & Infrastructure

Many area residents garden small plots of land and own a few chickens, goats or pigs. The luckier ones own cows. This area’s economic mainstays are agriculture, livestock, and the western NGO/ UNMIK/ KFOR presence. Internationals tired of living in Pristina have moved en masse to the Serb areas south of the town, where the rents are cheaper. Pork- not found in many restaurants in Pristina- draws many internationals to Gracanica’s new restaurants. Before 1999, this area functioned as a Pristina suburb; those not involved with agriculture in the immediate area generally worked there. The area also made money from the religious tourism generated by Gracanica’s monastery.

The populations of Gracanica, Laplje Selo, Livadje and Caglavica were either farmers or worked in Pristina before June of 1999. Since then the unemployment rate has exploded due to Pristina’s sudden inaccessibility, the loss of agricultural markets, and the inability of many farmers to work their fields due to the security situation in outlying areas. The influx of Serb and Roma IDPs from all over Kosovo add to this problem. Without a city the suburbs die; this population is cut off from employment opportunities and everything from cinemas and concerts to cultural events.  They lack both the means to earn a living and the institutions to enjoy it.

Gracanica, Laplje Selo, Livadje, Preoce and Caglavica pay no utilities. Electricity, water and telephones have been free, albeit intermittent, since June of 1999. Kosovar utility companies have repeatedly tried to shut down services; KFOR and UNMIK force restoration.

The situation, as explained to me by a Serb IDP from Pristina who has been trapped in Gracanica for four years:

“I’ll pay for my electricity, and my phone, and my water. Just give me back my apartment in Pristina, and make it safe enough for me to work there, and they can have all the money they want.”

95% of the area’s Serbs are unemployed; 98-99% of Roma are. Those that produce goods can only sell those goods in the immediate area.  There is little trade with Albanians outside of a few Pristina distributors that transport bulk goods to the area’s small shops for sale.  

Education

Gracanica has an electro-technical secondary school, a medical secondary school and a pedagogic secondary school. Serbs from the YU complex in Pristina are transported to schools in Gracanica every weekday. In addition, primary schools are located in all interviewee areas, and secondary schools are located in Caglavica and Laplje Selo. Livadje students attend school in Gušterica, Laplje Selo or Gracanica. University students attend school either via correspondence, in North Mitrovica or in Serbia proper. This acts as an effective barrier against higher education, due to transport concerns and increased costs. The University of Pristina has been off-limits to non-Albanian students since June of 1999.



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