Getting mines out
of the ground, for good

Explore the HALO Trust's mission to clear landmines in Kosovo
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Clearing

Krivenik Village

With a population of 300 people, Krivenik is a small village located in South East Kosovo. A poor, rural community, life in the village was difficult even before the war.

Once occupied by the military it was deeply immersed in conflict and surrounded by minefields. Many residents fled persecution to Macedonia, returning after the war to find many of their homes completely destroyed and their village mined.

Krivenik’s plight came to HALO’s attention and clearance began there in spring 2008. Since then, HALO has cleared 10 minefields and clearance of the last remaining minefield will be completed before the end of 2013.

Why are there landmines in Krivenik?

What Happened

The conflict in Kosovo

1998
1999
2001
2006/07
2008
2013

Krivenik was mined by the Yugoslavan Army to inhibit the movement of the Kosovo Liberation Army between Kosovo and Macedonia.

Mines were laid in Western Kosovo to slow the potential entry of NATO ground troops into Kosovo. NATO’s bombing campaign expelled the Yugoslav Army from Kosovo.

The minefields in and around Krivenik received partial clearance between 1999 and 2001 but the village was declared 'free of mines', as was the whole of Kosovo, in 2001.

Between 2006 and 2007 HALO conducted a community liaison survey, covering all communities in Kosovo, which identified 172 minefields and cluster munition strikes still in need of clearance.

In May, the Government of newly-independent Kosovo welcomed a resumption of HALO clearance. Since then, limited resources have restricted HALO's capacity in Kosovo to 65 staff but this small capacity has cleared 27 minefields and cluster munition strikes across Kosovo, returning almost 200 hectares of land to safe, productive use.

HALO will continue clearance until it has completed the last remaining minefield around Krivenik. The people of Krivenik will then, fourteen years after the end of fighting in Kosovo, be able to use all their land in safety.

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Meet a resident

The story of Fatime

"My name is Fatime. I grew up in a small village near Pristina and am a survivor of the war in Kosovo."

The 1990s were a difficult time for me and my family. With increasing military occupation, we faced aggression in every aspect of our lives — children were refused entry into their schools, houses were robbed, families were broken apart and many people became refugees, constantly uprooting their lives to find safety. During the course of the conflict, more than 7,000 soldiers had occupied our village, destroying everything in their path. My family and I moved many times — from village to village, to Pristina, Kosovo's capital city, over the border to Macedonia and eventually fleeing to Germany. With my brothers serving in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), I was left responsible for my elderly parents' safety. During one of our moves, my mother pleaded to be left behind, thinking she’d be a burden on our family. I refused to listen and carried her all the way on my back. While we were living in Pristina, refugees flooded in from the villages, many of which had been traumatized and hungry. Military police rounded up my family and took us to a train going to Macedonia. Just short of the border, the train stopped and police made us get out and walk the final stretch. We were taunted as we walked and told that there were mines on either side of the track that we might tread on.

After living in a camp in Macedonia, my family was granted official refugee status and flown to Germany. We were treated very well — they gave us housing, food and health care. During our 15 months in Germany, we watched the progress of the war on television, trying hard to stay in touch with those who remained behind. I was relieved when the bombing stopped. After a lifetime of oppression, NATO had given us the chance to be free. When we returned to Kosovo in July 2000, we faced utter destruction. Twelve members of my family had been killed. Miraculously, my immediate family had all survived. I met Demir, my now husband, in Germany as fellow refugees. We married in celebration of the end of the war and returned to Kosovo to start our lives together.” Read about Demir and his quest to rebuild his life with the help of the HALO Trust.

Find out more

Donate

Help the HALO Trust

Landmine clearance can be costly but our experience has proved that every donation counts.

Donate now

Our Work

View an interactive map

More than a decade after the conflict, the HALO team continues to fight the war against mines. Take a closer look at HALO’s clearance efforts in Krivenik.

View The Map

The People

Learn about the Villager’s life stories

The conflict in Kosovo continues to impact the people of Krivenik. Read about how the villagers are rebuilding their lives with the help of HALO.

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The story of Demir

Demir has been a primary school teacher in Krivenik since 1989. He lives in the village with his family of five. Before the war, more than 20 of his family members lived together, where they grew corn, sunflowers and wheat on their land and kept sheep.

Despite being aware of the impending conflict, Demir was unprepared for the war. Hearing rumours of a paramilitary attack on Krivenik, the family escaped to nearby Macedonia and were forced to leave their possessions and animals behind.

Demir and his family returned to the village in July 1999 and had to completely rebuild their lives. Unable to cultivate their land, Demir and his family were dependent on international aid. “Imagine a life reliant on help. You can’t continue to live like that.”

With scarce food and resources and the remnants of war all aroun d them, the family continued to struggle. “We lost two cows to mine accidents. We couldn’t even retrieve their carcasses for meat because we were scared of stepping on a mine. We had to leave them for the wolves to eat.”

Demir was relieved when HALO began their field work.

“When HALO came to clear the land everything was explained to me and I felt informed. When clearance was complete I walked on the land with the HALO team leader and I knew it was safe.”

With his property free of mines, Demir is optimistic about his future. He is once again able to use his land and has made enough from selling surplus hay and wood to repair his home and life with his family.

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The story of Bedri

Despite the escalating violence, the outbreak of war came as a shock to Bedri, a farmer living in Krivenik. Having sent his wife and nine children to Macedonia for their safety, Bedri soon followed, herding his flock over the mountains. “We didn’t believe we’d ever come back.”

The family eventually returned to the village and found that their house had been destroyed and all their possessions gone. Bedri struggled as he gradually began to reconstruct their lives. He cultivated the few areas of land he knew were safe, trying to grow enough wheat to make bread. He also lost two cows in mine accidents, a significant financial loss for the family. “It was a difficult time, but it is better to not have enough to eat than to risk our lives in a minefield.”

HALO’s mine clearance has had a significant impact on Bedri and his family. No longer living in fear of the mines, he is working towards self-sufficiency again. He can now grow enough winter-feed to keep 10 cows and his sons are employed by the HALO Trust, working as deminers.

Benefits to the entire village.

“I thank HALO for everything they’ve done. This clearance doesn’t just benefit me and my family. Our animals graze freely here, so clearance on my land also benefits the whole village of Krivenik.”
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The story of Valon

Valon was only ten years old when war broke out. After military forces entered his neighbor's’ house. Valon’s father knew that it was too dangerous for the family to stay and left for Macedonia. There were six children in the family, the youngest just a year old. Valon remembers how frightened they were. “All we knew was that we were leaving our home, we didn’t know what was going to happen. We were all scared.”

When they returned, they found their house destroyed and half their animals killed. They knew there were mines in the area and constantly worried that there might be an accident. Initial clearance undertaken by another agency didn’t reassure them. “They didn’t talk to us. We didn’t trust them and we didn’t believe that the area was safe.”

Without much usable land, life was hard. One day, Valon and his friends followed their cows into the area. Suddenly he spotted something and immediately knew it was a mine. “It was a terrible feeling; I was scared to death! I went home and told my parents.”

Valon is thankful for HALO and their efforts.

“We felt confident as the HALO team leader explained everything to us and kept us informed. When clearance was complete, we knew it was finally safe.”
Find out more

Donate

Help the HALO Trust

Landmine clearance can be costly but our experience has proved that every donation counts.

Donate

Our Work

View an interactive map

More than a decade after the conflict, the HALO team continues to fight the war against mines. Take a closer look at HALO’s clearance efforts in Krivenik.

View The Map

The People

Learn about the Villager’s life stories

Read about the conflict and its impact on Krivenik.

Learn More
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