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Albanian "humanitarian' crime/corruption/extorsion/profiteering


The San Francisco Chronicle                   Tuesday, May 11, 1999


                 War leaves drug, arms traffic up for grabs

                 By Frank Viviano, Chronicle Staff Writer

        By the time NATO and hundreds of thousands of Kosovar
refugees arrived in Albania two months ago, the consolidation was
well under way. "Whole       districts and towns are actually under
the utter control of the gangs," former president Berisha says.
        In the countryside surrounding the cities of Vlore and Durres,
according to the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur and other
European periodicals, refugee convoys from the war zone have
been held up by armed bands in the past two weeks, with young
Kosovar women singled out and abducted.
        Elsewhere in the country, humanitarian workers and journalists
from many Western news services report highly organized war
profiteering -- including the diversion of aid shipments into the
black market, bribery demands by customs agents processing the
shipments in Albanian ports, and gang-run "taxi firms" charging as
much as $120 to transport exhausted refugee families less than
eight miles from the Kosovo border to the Albanian town of Kukes.
        The normal fee is $4. An unheated room for aid workers in
Kukes today rents for $300 per night, in ramshackle houses that
sold outright for less than $1,000 before the NATO bombings began.

        "It's like the Klondike during the Gold Rush," Albanian
journalist Frrok Cupi told the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche,
describing the profits being reaped from foreign military and
humanitarian operations.
        Men claiming to be sales agents for the national
telecommunications company have asked as much as $3,000 for the
computer card necessary to connect a cellular phone with the
satellite network.
        "We should know from experience -- from places like Rwanda
and Somalia and Bosnia -- that humanitarian agencies must deal
with the local mafias in a war zone," says Koutouzis. "There is no
other way to get to the victims."
        Those who try to sidestep the clan syndicates do so at their own
peril, in a land where the number of illegally owned Kalashnikov
automatic assault weapons in some cities is greater than the number
of residents.
        On April 30, the Associated Press reported that "almost every
journalist" who has gone to the refugee camp at Bajram Curri in
northern Albania has been robbed, including a team from the Associated

                   ANDRE GUNDER FRANK
250 Kensington Ave - Apt 608     Tel: 1-514-933 2539    
Westmount/Montreal PQ/QC         Fax: 1-514-933 6445 
Canada H3Z 2G8              e-mail:agfrank@chass.utoronto.ca 

My Personal/Professional Home Page> http://www.whc.neu.edu/gunder.html
My NATO/Kosovo Page> http://csf.colorado.edu/archive/agfrank/nato_kosovo/       
My professional/personal conclusion is the same as Pogo's - 
            We have met the enemy, and it is US 

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