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Catholic World News News Feature

Orthodox Nuns Under Siege In Kosovo May 25, 1999

BELGRADE (CWNews.com) - A convent of Orthodox Christian nuns are under virtual siege by ethnic Albanian Kosovars inside Kosovo with threats against their lives and disruption of communications, according to a report by Reuters news agency.

Eight nuns of the St. Joanikija Order at a convent in the Drenica area of Kosovo have had their electricity cut, their food stolen, their lives threatened, and their phone lines severed since Serbian police left the area. The nuns said that the Kosovo Liberation Army took control of the area in November 1997, but were driven out in August 1998. Yugoslav police then protected them until last October when an international agreement forced their withdrawal.

While the KLA are in control of the region, the nuns are harassed and threatened when they travel into town for rare supplies. They said that KLA fighters have shot at their buildings and fired a mortar at their church. In February this year, almost everything of value was stolen. "They took away all the doors, the cooker, fridge and freezer, beds, bed covers and dishes, as well as the agricultural machinery," Sister Anastasija said.

Because of the violent circumstances, the sisters were unable to tend their gardens or farm animals, most of which died, and have come close to starvation, living on weeds and a few vegetables. "Any food they received from various humanitarian organizations was immediately taken by the KLA," said an Orthodox priest from Kosovo Polje who visited the nuns at the time. The nuns have planted a new garden this year and hope to harvest enough food to keep them alive next winter.

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