Kosovo's new beginning

Kosovo, February 17, 2007

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  <span class="field-credit">
    David Snyder for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Marta Doda used loans provided through the Agency for Finance in Kosovo (AFK) to purchase more inventory for her clothing shop. Small businesses are essential to addressing Kosovo's rampant unemployment. Photo: David Snyder for Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is pleased at the resolution of Kosovo’s political and legal status. We are confident this resolution will enable Kosovo to move forward with long-term rebuilding and significant economic and social progress. We urge the international community to support the efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous future for all of its citizens.

For too long, Kosovo has been locked in a limbo status, contributing to stagnation on many levels: a dearth of investment, soaring rates of unemployment and a faltering sense of hope. Mercy Corps has been in Kosovo since 1993. We have seen firsthand the crippling frustrations of jobless youth in a place where nearly 50% of those between 20 and 24 are unemployed. We have witnessed the frequent power outages, the disappointed faces of people who feel unable to move freely from place to place, a society that remains painfully torn along ethnic lines, and discord that has been fanned by political rhetoric.

While status resolution marks the end of a long, uncertain time, it also heralds even greater challenges. Kosovo’s leaders have the formidable task of forging long-term peace and stability, ensuring that all minorities are fully protected, and jumpstarting a slumbering economy. The international community and the people of Kosovo will need to commit their efforts, time, energy and resources to ensure that this new nation successfully meets the significant challenges ahead.

In these days following the declaration, Mercy Corps is monitoring and assessing the situation on the ground. We do not anticipate violence or humanitarian issues, but if any do arise, we are poised to quickly respond in coordination with local authorities, local community leaders and other international actors.

Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has vowed to protect the rights of Serbian Kosovars and other ethnic minorities. His leadership in welcoming all minorities as equal citizens into the new state is essential, and we call upon the international community to support him in this effort. Mercy Corps remains committed to working with the people of Kosovo, the new government, civil society and the international community to realize this vision of a brighter future. We believe there is great promise for positive, lasting change in Kosovo.

We're working every day to bring reconciliation and opportunity to places ravaged by conflict. Please make a generous donation to help Mercy Corps' peace-building and economic development efforts in places like Kosovo.