Kosovar Albanians Greeted at Ft. Dix by Yusuf Estes and brothers
From Suite

Kosovar Refugees at Fort Dix

Author: Anayat Durrani
Published on: May 14, 1999
Related Subject(s): Refugees -- Yugoslavia -- Kosovo (Serbia) , Kosovo (Serbia) -- History -- Civil War, 1998-

The first group of Kosovar Albanians arrived in the United States last week at Fort Dix, New Jersey. The arrival of the first group of refugees in the United States comes as a commitment by the U.S. to accept 20,000 refugees which are scheduled to arrive in groups of two thousand per week.

Yusef Estes, Chaplain to the federal prisons and director of social services for the Islamic Foundation of America, recently visited the refugees sheltered at Fort Dix. An eyewitness report released by Estes on Tuesday said that the refugees which have been arriving by plane every 12 or more hours were being welcomed by Muslim Chaplain Major Khan as well as Christian Baptist Chaplain Stepp. Upon arrival, adult refugees were provided with $50 cash and children were given $20. The refugees were also each given Qur’ans, which were provided by the Saudi Ministries and Qur’ans in the Albanian language are expected soon. Areas for prayer were also made for the refugees along with prayer rugs. Halal (Islamically prepared) food was also ensured for the Kosovar Muslims.

Estes also reported that medical attention was provided and that there were already reports of two cases of tuberculosis (now in quarantine) and four cases of hepatitis. The entire area where the Kosovar refugees are staying has been tightly secured. Access outside the area can only be granted with an escort and only to visit family members staying in the hospital on base. Outside access to the area in which the refugees are being housed has also been under strict supervision. Estes also reported that several American Muslim military personnel stationed at Fort Dix have been assigned to assist the Kosovar refugees staying there.

Estes was assured by the Christian Chaplain assisting the refugees that non-Muslim religious groups would not be allowed inside to try to convert the Muslim refugees. Many Muslim groups are working hard to ensure that the Albanian Kosovar refugees will be placed with Muslim host families in the United States.

According to the United States Information Agency, since March of 1998, approximately 900,000 Kosovar Albanians have fled the province. Approximately 60,000 displaced Kosovars remain inside Kosova. It is also reported that 90% of Kosovar Albanians, approximately 1.5 million of the estimated population in 1998, have been expelled from their homes in the Kosova province.

The Kosova Task Force reported that on May 6th 130 volunteers lobbied Congress in support of H.R. 1425, the Kosovar Independence and Justice Act of 1999. If enacted, H.R. 1425 would authorize arming the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA) to defend themselves, allow for the right to self-determination for the people of Kosova with eventual independence, and indict and try Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes.

Slobodan Milosevic’s policy of ethnically cleansing the Kosovar population has included forced displacement, burning and looting of homes, businesses, and entire villages, detentions, executions, and rape. Serbian forces have repeatedly and without halt committed war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law.

For information about local refugee resettlement agencies in your area, please contact: 1-800-727-4420 or e-mail

Live Broadcast