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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…

Greek Street Views on #Brexit

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Only eight months ago the people of debt-ridden Greece were asked to vote in their own EU referendum. Their issue was whether to accept a bail out deal offered by the so-called Troika. Their question: “Should the draft deal put forward by the EU, ECB & IMF, be accepted?” Was not as straight forward as the one facing the British public: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?"
But stakes were portrayed similarly – as a knife-edge decision between being in or out of the EU. If Greeks voted NO the threat was they would be cast adrift with a return to the Drachma or, at the very least, a German engineered time-out from the union. Despite a NO vote of 60%, rejecting the terms, the Government of Greece accepted tough fiscal conditions and stayed in the EU. So what would an-albeit unscientific sample of Greeks think of the Brits leaving?
Marc Perry traveled to Northern Greece to find out:



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…