20 April 2007

Fatic family returns to Pec

BBC Serbian (UK), Wednesday, January 24, 2007 By Tanja Vujisic BBC correspondent in Pec


Once upon a time there were some twenty thousand Serbs living in the municipality of Pec.


After the 1999 war in Kosovo not one Serb remained in the city.


After almost eight years the first Serb family, the Fatices, returned to their native city.


The Fatic family returned to Pec after 7 years where they live a difficult life


With the help of the organization UN Habitat, they managed to reclaim their apartment, which had been illegally occupied for seven years.


The organization repaired the hardwood floor, which had been damaged, and the Danish Council for Refugees gave them two beds as they found none of the household furnishings they had left behind seven years ago.


The family lives in an unheated house with a leaky roof. They did the electrical wiring themselves and they are more frequently without power than with it.


Seventy-five year old Branko Fatic emphasizes that they feel forgotten and abandoned by everyone, adding that an exceptionally difficult life in Belgrade and poverty forced them to return to their native city.


"I paid one thousand dinars' rent. Now they are asking for three and a half thousand. I don't even have a bathroom. I don't even have a water heater to take a bath. When one has no money, one has nothing. Today a couple living in Belgrade are complaining; the woman has a salary and the man has a salary and still they are complaining. I'm not complaining. We need everything for our empty house but without money, all we can do is be quiet. I have no one to help me, not a single Serb," Branko Fatic tells the BBC.


The three-member family survives solely on Branko's pension of 8000 dinars.


Since the first day of their return to today, no one has visited them except journalists. They have never received any aid in food, medicine or clothing.


Branko emphasizes that they are surviving thanks solely to the sisterhood of the Pec Patriarchate; however, he admits that with age and illness the once weekly trip to the Pec Patriarchate is growing more and more difficult for him.


"I don't even have a bicycle. If I had one, I would go with the bicycle but I don't. I have a driver's license but I cannot buy a car. I pay five euros for television. I pay seven euros for the telephone; the children from Belgrade call, I have to answer them," emphasizes Branko Fatic.


Leposava Fatic says that from time to time she has to go to the marketplace in the center of the city and that so far the Albanians have done nothing bad to her.


However, the family's fear is ever present, especially at night.


"Sometimes I wonder if we will wake up alive in the morning. They have begun banging on our doors. Several times they banged on the door at night when we have had no electricity for four or five hours. I go to the marketplace because it has to be done. How can you survive if you don't go out to buy something," says Leposava Fatic.


Leposava says that she and her husband are determined to stay in Pec for good because, she says, their seven children and grandchildren already have an extremely difficult time as they spend their refugee days in (central) Serbia.


"We have nowhere to go. We have no chance of selling (our property) and even if we did, where would we go? We have so many children who are not working. We have nowhere to go. We have 17 grandchildren. One of my sons, a policeman, was killed. One of my daughters died. We will stay as long as we possibly can. We will see what will happen and how things will be if they turn for the better," says Leposava Fatic, a member of the only Serb family to return to Pec since the 1999 war.