An artist, an activist and a former president have helped secure a landmark victory for thousands of Kosovans, as the state finally agrees to pay them war pensions
When the war in Kosovo began, Feride Rushiti was studying medicine at the University of Tirana in Albania. After she qualified, she volunteered to treat civilian victims of the conflict. In March 1999, she travelled to Kukës on the Albanian border, where hundreds of thousands of refugees had gathered, fleeing a campaign of ethnic cleansing by Serbian forces. It was desperate, confusing, utterly heartbreaking, she says of the largest forced exodus in Europe since the second world war.
Rushiti, an ethnic Albanian from Gjilan in eastern Kosovo, worked by day with the UN’s children’s agency and at night with Doctors Without Borders. Amid the chaos of those first days, she met a woman whose story would change her life, and with it the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other women.