ROME (Jun. 29)
International Jewish representatives have entered Kosovo for the first time since the NATO air war against Yugoslavia began and evacuated the leader of Pristina’s Jewish community and his family.
Chedar Prlincivic, 61, his wife, Vidosava, and his 81-year-old mother, Bea Mandil, were brought Tuesday to the Macedonian capital of Skopje by Vikto Mizrachi, president of the 186-member Jewish community of Macedonia.
“They came out not to flee, but to have medical attention and rest for a few weeks until the situation in Pristina settles down,” Yechiel Bar Chaim, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee representative for the former Yugoslavia, told JTA by telephone from Skopje.
Bar Chaim said Prlincivic and his family are in good health and spirits, but exhausted from the stress of the previous few months.
On Sunday, armed men visited their home in Pristina and ordered them to leave town. Prlincivic said the men were not members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, but appeared to have been rogue paramilitaries operating on their own.
He described the situation in Pristina as tense and unsettled.
Mizrachi entered Kosovo along with Eli Eliezri, the officer for special projects of the JDC. It was the first time that international Jewish representatives had entered Kosovo since well before the air strikes began in March.
During the conflict, the Pristina community had remained in contact with Jewish communal organizations in Belgrade by telephone.
Eliezri stayed in Pristina and planned to go on to the Kosovar town of Prizren to check on the situation of Jews there.
Before the conflict this spring, some 40 Jews were known to have lived in the Kosovar capital.
Bar Chaim said only seven remained there now, including Prlincivic’s son and his family. At least one family had made aliyah, and the others were believed to be staying with relatives elsewhere in Serbia.
About 20 Jews were known to have lived in Prizren, but it was not known how many remained nor what their situation was.
In Skopje, meanwhile, Bar Chaim said that the creation of La Benevolencija Skopje, a Jewish social service organization dedicated to non-sectarian humanitarian aid, would be announced on Wednesday
The new organization is modeled on a Sarajevo organization, bearing the same name, that played a key role during the Bosnian war as a provider of non- sectarian aid in the besieged city.
The Skopje body will dedicate itself to furnishing help to Kosovar refugees still in camps and private housing, as well as to Macedonian institutions that are in special need because of the crisis.
The organization will work within the framework of the Jewish community of Skopje and will be funded by the JDC, the American Jewish Committee, the European Council of Jewish Committees, the Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jews and the Union of Swiss Jews.