Monday, May 02, 2005

Missing Kosovar man 'born again'

ST. JOHN'S, NFLD. -- A Kosovar family torn apart by war is looking forward to an emotional reunion after finally getting word from a son who had been missing for five years. "I don't believe I was as happy when he was born as (the day he was found)," Hafiza Cej said Friday in St. John's, where she now lives.

"He was born again to me."

The woman and her sons, Adnan and Remzi, were living in Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo, in the 1990s, when clashes between Serbian authorities and the Kosovo Liberation Army reached a climax.


Serbian police invaded a small village just 25 km away, making the family fearful for their safety -- and particularly for Adnan, a 28-year-old who suffers from hearing and speaking impairments.

"He couldn't even hear the mortar shells that were thrown very close, except for the trembling of the ground he'd hear when strong detonations were launched," Remzi recalled.

The family decided that Adnan had to get out of Kosovo as soon as possible. He was sent to Turkey, the only country to which borders were still open and safe at the time.

Once there, Adnan's passport and all other identification were taken from him.

"It was a strategy of the government so that Albanian Kosovars wouldn't go back," Remzi explained.

Adnan was given a one-year visa to stay in Turkey, after which he was required to claim refugee status.


Remzi said Adnan sent postcards from Turkey, but because of his poor writing skills, they contained few details of his situation. The last time the family heard from him was in March 1999, when the mail service stopped in Mitrovica. Eventually the rest of the family was also forced to flee Kosovo, and headed to Turkey.

Despite their best efforts, the family couldn't find Adnan. They came to Canada in 2000 and settled in St. John's. In June, though, the family received news.

Adnan had asked a friend who worked for a Turkish TV channel to make a public appeal for his family, and it appeared on Kosovar television. Family cousins saw the story, and contacted Hafiza and Remzi. Today, Hafiza and Remzi are in regular phone contact with Adnan and are trying to bring him to Canada.

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