1999: Samaritan’s Purse provides relief to Kosovar refugees as conflict continues in the Balkans.
As Kosovo struggled for its independence from Serbia, 90 percent of its population—ethnic Albanians—feared for their lives. The Serbian military killed thousands of people and destroyed over 500,000 homes on an ethnic cleansing campaign. This forced 860,000 Kosovar Albanians to flee to safety in the surrounding Balkan countries.
Samaritan’s Purse responded to the crisis by delivering food, water, blankets, clothing, and medicine to these refugees in Albania and Macedonia. Seeing the speed in which we distributed these essential supplies, the United Nations asked us to set up a “tent city” outside of Hamallaj, Albania, to house up to 10,000 refugees.
Within this 180-acre community, we tried to provide a sense of normalcy for the weary, including running a school that met daily. We also operated a bread factory that cranked out 600 loaves an hour to feed hungry families along with other nourishing food we provided. In addition, the tent city contained a 20-bed field hospital as well as a playground for the children. Through all these services, we worked to show the Kosovars God’s love during their critical time of need.
After international peacekeeping forces stabilized Kosovo, Samaritan’s Purse entered the country and helped more than 1,800 families return home by repairing roofs, installing windows, and providing wood stoves for houses that were burned during the war. In addition, we rebuilt eight schools and a hospital to continue to help the nation recover.
That December, Samaritan’s Purse delivered about 400,000 Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to the children of Kosovo, aiming to give every child in the country a glimpse of Good News and great joy.