Program Officer, Balkans and Caucasus Programs, International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003
This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).
I don't think I ever would have seen it as an opportunity to have this big discussion about anything relating to the war but I do think if anything you can do training with your own staff that are there so that they can be aware of the risks that or, better, where the risks are that are there, you know how to deal with some sort of conflict arise with the group. I think it is more about sort of sensitizing the environment and when opportunities appear you can pursue them further. Obviously each council was different, too. You had one council in the south in Pristina ???, which was known as a more tolerant area, more multi-ethnic, where in fact in the town of Prisna ???, the lengua franca is still Turkish or it was. You have other areas where the hardest ??? KLA, the rebel group resistance was, and you really had more atrocities committed.
Obviously there is a certain sensitivity to that, like to what was possible in one place was not possible in another. Also just the types of groups that were funded and the type of work they were doing maybe with one group it is pretty much clear what they are doing; they are going to get some new tractors, and they are going to be better able to bring their goods to market and market them where a lot of them were killed. Okay maybe the opportunity isn't there but there might be another group. There is an elderly group in urban Pristinia, and it really was more. There were older Serbs that hadn't left or whatever, so then maybe amongst those women as they are sitting around knitting there is an opportunity to engage in discussion or shape that discussion in a way that stuff could come up. So I think it is very subjective which I think is the difficult part about entering into a project in partnership with another NGO because who knows what the real opportunity really is there. It is hard to discern but I think having the connection with them is important because then at the point at which that would be useful and that could be really productive then you have that resource available and I don't think people think that way. I mean it was like the comment made earlier, you have all these people going out, UNDP's doing one thing, this conflict group is doing another thing, this humanitarian assistance group is doing another thing, you know OSCE or whoever is doing another thing and there's lots of missed opportunities there.