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The Brits in Kosovo

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On Saturday the 12th of June 1999, in a shoe factory on the outskirts of Skopje, General Sir Mike Jackson received a telegram from the Queen; it read:
"I have nothing but admiration for the way in which you have carried out your duties over recent weeks during this difficult time of preparation and improvisation in caring for the refugees. I have no doubt that much greater pressures now lie ahead as you prepare to move into Kosovo as part of KFOR with the eyes of the world on you. I am confident in your ability to rise to these challenges and I am proud of every one of you, as are your families and friends who watch and wait. My thoughts and prayers are with you all."
And rise to the challenge they did, but you don't need to take my word for it.
It's exactly ten years since the British had any sort of substantial presence here in Kosovo yet from my window in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the Union Jack can still be seen flying along side the Stars and Stripes. Today t…

Mediating migration – a transformation – from observation to direct action

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Three years ago, from a roadside in Kabul, I witnessed one of many refugee camps clinging to the outskirts of the sprawling city. The people inside were the survivors of another freezing winter in which young an old alike had frozen to death due to the hard choices between buying wood, food or clothing. They were the ‘internally displaced’ of southern Afghanistan, fleeing from fighting in Helmand between Taliban, local groups, and troops from my own country. Without means of provision, without employment, without hope and without freedom of movement, they, like the many others, were confined to scratching out a survival as best they could. Without security, and concerned about how justifiably unwelcome and Englishman might be, the nearest I got to the camp was to briefly walk to the circumference, where a group of kids were gleefully playing with a plastic yellow duck in a dirty open sewer. The innocence of children, who know no better than to keep playing is something I would see aga…

Freedom at 4am: Misadventures in Afghanistan

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Book Available on Amazon
Freedom at 4AM is a true life tale of cultural clash in Afghanistan: from the political to the personal, from the spiritual to sexual. Set against a backdrop of history, geopolitics, religion and misadventure this immersive story climaxes with a unlikely call to prayer under life threatening circumstances...

"A powerful, sharply observed story of Marc Perry's experience working for an NGO in Kabul. He vividly conveys the underbelly of seediness and corruption of internationals; working in the shadows of violence, and death. Very readable - once the reader started, difficult to put down".
Donald Reeves MBE.


I was honoured to be one of the first people to own a copy and to read it. It was compelling, terrifying, eye-opening and heart-breaking. I’m extremely proud to know and to have worked with such a talented and brave journalist.
Lottie Gross, Editor, Rough Guides. 


What impresses me is that you’re fair to Afghans and Afghan culture, even as…

Macedonian border town returns to normal, except for refugee reception camp

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The sleepy railway station of Gevgelija has returned to normality. In the station cafe a smattering of smartly dressed Syrians smoke cigarettes in summer hats, a smiling Macedonian army officer drinks coffee, while a newly constructed train station cum reception camp 2 kilometers south of town processes 3-8,000 refugees a day.


"Thanks God," the Syrians in the cafe tell me, everything has been okay on their journey.

Where once dirt lines cut alongside the railway line south a path of river stone now connects Greece and Macedonia. An improbable amount of coordination seems to be taking place between these two sometimes antagonistic states. Army engineers still busy themselves ferrying stone from a tributary of the Vadar river - a geographical river running counter to the human river streaming north. Natural metaphors are dangerous, politicians use them to scare, but words are scarce when describing the scale of such an on-going human migratory flight. As we read, their migration…

Refugee families flood north to head off Hungary fence

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Gevgelija, on the Greek - Macedonian border.

Northern Europeans, heading south for holidays, are fleetingly rubbing shoulders with hundreds of refugees moving in the opposite direction, escaping conflict, persecution and poverty heading towards Western Europe – from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea & Somalia. Traffic on the refugee route: via Turkey > Greek Islands > Greece > Macedonia > Serbia > Hungary, has increased significantly during the last three weeks, prompting the UNHCR to declare anunprecedented emergency. The continuous stream of refugees indicates people are ready to make a last ditch attempt to cross into Western Europe before the new Hungarian Border fence with Serbia is complete. "Everyone is in a rush to get to Hungary," said one UNHCR official, who confirmed the crossing into Hungary was via unofficial border crossings in Serbia; i.e. fields.

UNHCR officials on the ground tell me that since the construction of the Bulgaria-Turkey…

Protests, pain and cutting through past propoganda

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An in-depth look into unrest in Kosovo, brought to violent expression in February 2015.

A mining rights/privatisation issue was married with demands for the sacking of a Serb MP following a comment after an ice-throwing-at-pilgrims incident in Gjakova. The comment: “Savages in Djakovica have ruined the holiday for people who came to their houses that were burned [after the war in 1999],”immediately stirred tensions. Kosovo police arrested two members of opposition movement Vetevendosje for throwing ice at the bus. Protests throughout Kosovo spread in strength arriving in the capital Prishtina Jan 24th and 27th where a smaller section became violent. 160 people arrested on the 27th are set to face prosecution in the courts. Apologies from Communities and Returns Minister Aleksandar Jablanovic were not accepted and hints that it,"may be desirable," to depart  his position by PM Isa Mustafa finally led to his dismissal Feb 3. His comments were described by a young business owne…

For the Fallen: Inside The British Cemetery, Kabul

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Inside the British Cemetery lie the fallen from military campaigns from the 19th century. Memorials to NGO workers, humanitarians, soldiers and journalists of the 2000s surround the walls. Today it is an international cemetery, representing people from far corners of the earth.  While 453 British soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice tens of thousands of Afghans have lost their lives in the conflict. No one knows the real number and the slaughter of state v insurgent continues day by day.Take a look inside the British Cemetery, Kabul, in this video memorial for the fallen: