The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund has responded to an appeal for emergency aid by the International Orthodox Christian Charities to help the people of Kosovo. The initial PWRDF grant of $5,000 has been increased by $15,000 in donations from Canadian Anglicans earmarked for Kosovo.
The full $20,000 will be channeled through Action by Churches Together (ACT), a network of churches that responds to emergencies. The money will provide supplementary food and hygiene supplies to the people of Kosovo, both those internally displaced and refugees who have fled to neighbouring Macedonia and Montenegro.
Even before NATO began air strikes on March 24, fighting between Serb forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army had increased. Serb ethnic cleansing activities aimed at clearing out the 90 per cent of Kosovo’s population who are ethnic Albanians intensified after the bombing. Reports received by PWRDF indicate that the conflict has caused extensive destruction and many people have been uprooted from their homes.
By the end of March the United Nations estimated that nearly 340,000 people had fled Kosovo and thousands more had fled their homes but remain inside the country. Bishop Artimije of the Raska-Pizren Diocese, and the brotherhood of monks at the Decani monastery in Kosovo, have issued calls for peaceful resolution of the Yugoslavian conflict. The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Michael Peers, has issued a statement expressing “horror” at the continuing ethnic strike in the former Yugoslavia. “We seem to be witnessing the use of ethnic cleansing and the targeting of civilian populations by military units,” in a conflict that has claimed 2,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands more. “We can not be indifferent to such atrocities,” said the Primate. But he added, ”
It is by no means clear that the current NATO bombing campaign is either an appropriate or helpful way of achieving this.” Archbishop Peers said that although the NATO bombing is motivated by humanitarian concern – the desire to stop Serb ethnic cleansing – it falls short of the traditional Christian criteria for a “just war.”
Neither the United Nations nor the Canadian Parliament approved the bombing, he pointed out, which raises real questions of authority. “The aim of Christians must be the restoration of a just and stable peace. At present the precise military objectives and their relationship to the more essential policy objectives remain unclear.” Early evidence doesn’t indicate that NATO bombing has helped ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, added Archbishop Peers. “I believe it is unlikely to do so without the use of ground forces,” he said, noting that this option has to date been held back by the United States.
Part of the reason for the lack of effectiveness of the West in the region, said the Primate, is a failure to understand how centuries-old ethnic and religious divisions shape the conflict.
Bob Bettson is a freelance writer based in Toronto.