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Published on 20 Dec 2019 / In Youtube Clips


For many of the predominantly Muslim Kosovar refugees, the Orthodox church is a symbol of Serb nationalism.

But in the Albanian capital of Tirana, one church has become the hand that feeds them.

The Sunday morning church service here has acquired a new status.

The Albanian congregation not only gathers to pray, but also to support the plight of the thousands of Kosovar refugees who have fled their homeland to escape the conflict that continues to ravage the region.

According to international aid organisations, 433-thousand refugees have fled from Yugoslavia into the already poor nation of Albania.

Even though neighbouring Macedonia has insisted the international community take refugees away from it's region, Albania has largely been willing to accommodate as many of their native kinsmen as possible.

SOUNDBITE: (Albanian)
"We pray with all our hearts that they can go back to their country and that there can be peace."
SUPER CAPTION: Elvis Popaj, Vox Pop

SOUNDBITE: (Albanian)
"Q - Do you pray for the Kosovars?
"Yes, for everyone. Our archbishop prays for them and the pope has also asked us to pray for them. Prayer is powerful and if everybody prayed for the people who suffered, it would help."
SUPER CAPTION: Vasil Meno, Vox Pop

The Orthodoxy has long been associated with Serb nationalism.

Serb nationalists normally consider themselves as defenders of the faith, but this church refuses to accept any suggestion that this could be seen as a holy war against the predominantly Muslim Kosovar population.

SOUNDBITE: (Albanian)
"If you say this is a holy war, that it is a religious war, I can say that in our orthodox faith there is no such thing as religious war. To be a Christian is to live in peace and to be compassionate and you cannot imagine being a Christian and declaring war."
SUPER CAPTION: Father Sotir, Albanian Orthodox Priest

As NATO continues with its campaign and signs of the refugees returning to Kosovo remains bleak, the church has acted as a collection point for clothes and food donations.

The aid is later distributed by the church amongst Albanian families, who act as hosts to the refugees.

This church-sponsored refugee camp is home to several hundred Kosovars - most of them are either Muslim or Catholic.

The church is now planning to assist more camps within Albania, hoping to ease the refugees pain and suffering in the name of God.

You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metad....ata/youtube/2e3b7456
Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork

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