news 25 Oct 17

Kosovo Acts to Preserve War Victims’ Possessions

War victims’ clothes and other personal possessions, stored at the Institute of Forensic Medicine since 2003, are being transferred to a better location after calls to ensure that they are preserved.

Die Morina

Thousands of items that were owned by Kosovo war victims whose bodies have been found in mass and individual graves since the conflict are being transferred to a more appropriate location after having been stored for years in poor conditions.

The move comes after pressure by the director of Kosovo Forensics, Arsim Gerxhaliu, and victims’ families.

Since 2003, Gerxhaliu and his colleagues at the Institute of Forensic Medicine have voluntarily taken care of the victims’ possessions by changing their packaging and putting up shelves in the tent in which they were stored.

“Over these years, together with our staff, we have bought wooden planks and trays, made shelves and every spring and every autumn we have changed the paper packaging, trying to keep these artefacts safe in order for them not to be destroyed,” Gerxhaliu told BIRN.

The Ministry of Public Administration has found a location with better conditions to store the items in a government building in Pristina.

“This location is much better because there is no moisture as there is in the tent where the artefacts have been kept for years,” Gerxhaliu said.

Then International Red Cross is assisting in the process and has employed two people who are cleaning and properly packing the victims’ possessions.

Since there are thousands of items, the process that started in October will continue into next year.

“There are thousands, but about 700-800 packages will be transferred before winter, while we have ten full containers [of items remaining] that should be considered as a project for next year,” Gerxhaliu said.

He said that because of the importance of the artefacts, it would be ideal in future to build a victims’ museum, similar to Holocaust museums.

“Artefacts are bridges between the victim and the family… this is evidence that we should not forget,” he said.

“I say ‘bridges’ because these are what the victims had until the day they were killed, until the last minute of their lives. There are things like watches, combs, mirrors, pens, glasses, keys etc, things that people usually keep,” he added.

The victims’ possessions will be stored at the ‘Rilindja’ building, where several government ministries are located.

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