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Ethnic Albanian refugees suffered obesity not malnutrition

Excerpts from Susanne Jaspars 'New Statesman' article (5-15-00)
Comments by Jared Israel
(5-16-00) [emperors-clothes]

During the war against Yugoslavia, Western politicians and the media claimed Yugoslav forces deliberately drove masses of ethnic Albanians out of Kosovo. They said it was planned in advance. Some opponents of bombing supported this view, engaging in a mock criticism of the US government, saying it demonstrated its callousness by bombing the Serbs when it knew the Serbs would then turn on the Albanians and drive them out. Thus NATO and its semi-opponents agreed: Albanians were forced out by the Serbs.

But were they?

In his article "Cooking the books - NATO's claims of ethnic cleansing challenged", Michel Chossudovsky points out that according to official Western figures, relatively more Serbs than Albanians fled Kosovo during the bombing.

Doesn't that utterly contradict the official ethnic-cleansing theory?

I have interviewed Ethnic Serbs, Jews and Albanians who say the Albanian refugees were in fact organized - and ordered - to leave by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The goal, they say, was to provide TV images to show the world that the Serbs were monsters so that Western public opinion would support the bombing and occupation of Kosovo by NATO.

This was relatively successful. When the bombing started, most Westerners were opposed. Then TV viewers were deluged - non-stop, 24 hours a day - with pictures of Albanian refugees. Heart-rending voice-over narrations and "eye witness" accounts repeated the same stories of misery like a mantra.

Odd to tell, if you ran the pictures with no sound, the refugees didn't look all that miserable. Nevertheless the TV coverage persuaded many that NATO had to bomb Serbia to save the Albanians.

Could this giant exodus have been staged? Could it have been a big political lie? That's an extraordinary claim, isn't it?

But Kosovo secessionism is an extraordinary movement.

In the early 1990s, the secessionists, who were mainly under the leadership of Ibrahim Rugova, enforced a mass Albanian boycott of state-run schools and hospitals in Kosovo. The point? To trick the West into believing Albanians had been locked out by the Serbian State and thus build public support for Western intervention in Kosovo. As analyst Diana Johnstone notes:

  • "In order to gain international support, inflammatory terms such as 'ghetto' and 'apartheid' are used by the very Albanian nationalist leaders who have created the separation between populations by leading their community to boycott all institutions of the Serbian State in order to create a de fact secession. Not only elections and schools, but even the public health service has been boycotted, to the detriment of the health of Kosovo Albanians, especially the children." (Seeing Yugoslavia Through a Dark Glass)

A remarkable mindset thus developed among many Albanians, a willingness to engage in prolonged and complicated maneuvers for political effect. These acts of mass political theater sometimes involved real suffering. Despite this, many Albanians participated because of the lure of secession which appeared to be a real possibility given open and covert signs of US support. In addition, the secessionists were encouraged by other US political and military efforts to break up Yugoslavia.

So when the KLA ordered Albanians to temporarily depart, when the KLA told Albanians, 'Leave now and we will return to a Kosovo where we will be the Masters (under NATO control),' it was nothing new.

Today's 'New Statesman' has an article by Susanne Jaspars, an independent nutrition consultant. Jaspars helped organize food relief for ethnic Albanians who had left Kosovo during the bombing.

Her report bolsters our claim that these people were not victims of persecution.

If Albanians had really left because of monstrous Serbian persecution, wouldn't one see the signs - ill-health, malnutrition, inadequate clothing? One can certainly find these symptoms, among Serbs and Roma who are barely surviving under KLA/NATO domination in Kosovo as well as those who have fled to inner Serbia.

Do your remember how un-refugee-like those TV 'refugees' looked? The designer clothes, the expensive running shoes, nice hair-dos, cellular phones? And as for malnutrition:

  • "This time last year, I was cooking spaghetti for 300 new arrivals at a camp for Kosovar refugees in Albania. The camp itself, on the Adriatic coast, was like any overcrowded European campsite: rows of tents, car parks, vendors' stalls and ice-cream vans. [!] I looked at the people I was about to feed, and saw groups of plump-cheeked children, heavy men and heavier women. They did not look like the refugees I was used to, the victims of African crises whose skeletal limbs and emaciated figures haunt television viewers the world over....

    "By July 1999, it became clear that the main nutritional problem among Kosovars was not under-nutrition, but obesity." (Susanne Jaspars, 'New Statesman,' 5/15/00)

Westerners were mobilized to donate food, clothing, cash for the suffering refugees, but where was the suffering? Jaspars compares one refugee camp to "any overcrowded European campsite." And concerning the quality of relief:

  • "...The international community responds to any disaster with food aid, and the Kosovo crisis was no exception. However, the quantity and types of food provided to some Kosovars while they were refugees was exceptional. The UN used the same procedures to work out food-aid needs as elsewhere, but numerous agencies decided to use private funds to purchase food. Meanwhile, many donor countries provided funding direct to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to buy additional foods; and donations - ranging from Mars bars, Italian cakes, pains au chocolat, Turkish delight, as well as healthier alternatives such as milk, cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables - arrived in Nato planes." (Susanne Jaspars, 'New Statesman,' 5/15/00)

Remember the news story about some Albanian refugees throwing away food that wasn't to their taste? Can you imagine real refugees throwing away food? Those folks were refugee Yuppies.

Jaspers says that not all Albanian refugees were equally pampered. For example, "refugees living with Albanian hosts" received almost no food. (It isn't clear that under the circumstances they suffered...) Jaspars notes that:

  • "Some clearly inappropriate and potentially harmful foods found their way to the camps - infant formula and baby foods, for instance, were distributed there, despite the international codes against the promotion of such products." [This may be inappropriate, but it is not exactly deprivation...]

Jaspars asks:

  • "How can we justify providing high-cost food items to Europeans who were not undernourished when, in most African crises, we cannot even provide undernourished populations with a basic survival ration?

    "[Did being] cut off from their normal sources of food... justify chocolate and cake? The issue is one of equity and impartiality. As humanitarians, we claim to provide assistance on the basis of need. The aid community did not do this in 1999, when the need was clearly greater in places such as Somalia, Sudan and Angola." (Susanne Jaspars, 'New Statesman,' 5/15/00)

Jaspers implies that the extreme difference between the way Albanians and Africans were treated stems from racism. Obviously there is racism towards Africans. But consider this: the Albanian refugees were no whiter than most of the one million plus refugees in inner Serbia. Yet the Serbian, Albanian, Slavic Muslim, Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Serb refugees in inner Serbia - all the refugees in Serbia are white except the Roma ("Gypsies") - and they get virtually no help from international organizations. Less help than Africans.

NATO pampered the pro-NATO Albanian refugees and gives nothing to the pro-Yugoslav refugees for political reasons. The neglect of refugees in inner Serbia is intended to destabilize Yugoslavia, which is a NATO goal. On the other hand, pro-NATO Albanians were groomed last spring as a proxy force. For the Albanians, the fancy food was a promise of a fancy future. The KLA, armed to the teeth and anointed by NATO to run the refugee camps, could say, 'See? Look at the clout we have with NATO! +Stick with us and we'll drive out the Serbs and take their land and their property. It's rightfully ours. We'll live like kings.' (My prediction: it will end badly for those who swallowed this bait. Fortune has a way of reversing.)

KLA strength in the refugee camps relied on the threat of violent punishment for opponents, on pampering (as evidence that the KLA was Number One with NATO) and on constant indoctrination. Do you remember the TV news coverage of little children chanting Serb-hating slogans in the camps?Those camps were centers for consolidating KLA power. JI [emperors-clothes]