News 08 Apr 15

Kosovo Govt Says Over 25,000 Fought for KLA

A government headcount has verified that more than 25,000 people fought for the Kosovo Liberation Army against Serbian forces during the 1998-99 conflict - more than previously estimated.

Petrit Collaku
BIRN
Pristina

Faik Fazliu, head of the government’s commission for the verification of the former fighters, told BIRN on Wednesday that the number has already passed 25,000 veterans so far.

“We will know exact number by the end of this week but I can say that there are more than 25,000 people that are verified as KLA war veterans,” Fazliu said.

Previous estimates by officials suggested that only around 20,000 people fought for the KLA.

Since the headcount started in November 2012, the government received 66,300 applications from people claiming to have been part of the guerrilla force, hoping to claim veterans' benefits. However the number of those verified has been far lower.

The work of the commission has been criticised for delays in publishing the final list, which it promised to finish last December.

Only once it is published can veterans start receiving benefits envisioned by legislation passed last year.

KLA veterans have held several protests about delays to the launch of the benefits for veterans. During the last one on March 30, they broke down the gate of the government building and entered the courtyard, but were halted by a special police unit cordon deployed there in order to prevent clashes.

In February, former KLA commander turned politician Ramush Haradinaj also accused the authorities of exaggeratingd the number of guerrillas who fought in the 1990s war and asked for a correction of the lists.

Fazliu said that the commission has now corrected some of the lists with the consent of former KLA commanders.

He also said that the commission has received around 7,000 complaints, mainly from people dissatisfied about their status decision.

“But there are people that complained that some names of people should not be there because they did not fight alongside them,” he said.

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