Orahovac

Orahovac

Orahovac is small town in south-western part of Serbia, Kosovo and Metohija Province, which comprises the Municipality of Orahovac and 35 villages. This town is situated between towns of Djakovica, Decani, Prizren and Pec in southwest part of Kosovo and Metohija and covers the tiny surface of the smallest Serbian ghetto. Estimated total population of the town is 73300, inhabited with majority of Albanians, who mostly live in villages, while about 23200 inhabitants live in the town itself. Kosovo Serb society in Orahovac numbers about 800 inhabitants who live in the Upper part of the town of Orahovac, some 400 to 500 people, and in the next village of Velika Hoca there is also small Serb enclave of approximately 700 Serb and Roma people. All Serbs in Orahovac live in depressive monotony and constant fear, kept as prisoners in their own land, depending on the humanitarian aid and without any income. The spirit of Orahovac population is truly something worth of admiration. You can get to the Serbian part of Orahovac along the so-called “Serb streets”. The part of the street in Orahovac, bordering the Albanian part was totally burnt and devastated during and after the Kosovo conflict. The previous small town of Orahovac with its own Assembly, Court and the Gymnasium turned into the concentration camp for Serbs, living in barbed wire. In the 21st century the people of Orahovac are living in ghetto which comprises of 500 meters in 2-3 streets where they are allowed to move relatively freely. They’re constantly intimidated by Albanian majority and thus protected by KFOR troops and need permit to leave the town. There are about 550 Roma and Egyptians and Ashkali population living in the Upper part of the town.

Since the conflict in 1999 in Kosovo and Metohija, nine settlements of Orahovac Municipality were established with the mixed population of Serbs and Albanians. Economy in Orahovac is based mostly on agriculture, especially grape growing and wine production. Serbs in Orahovac municipality put lots of efforts to revive production of highest quality Orahovac red wine, which During Yugoslavia made famous this area and the PKB “Orvin”, whose entire production was exported, mostly to Germany. Today they assist the small wine producers to achieve their wine production, as their only income.

There is weak wheat and corn production, and limited cattle breeding. Education in Orahovac reflects the ethnic division in the region of Kosovo and Metohija, and most schools are divided by ethnicity. Albanian children go to 19 Albanian schools, and one Gymnasium in two towns of 2 conceptions. Serbian children may approach and go only to the Vuk Karadzic elementary school and one Gymnasium, situated in uninhabited part of the town. Serbs live in the Upper part of Orahovac, in radius of 500 meters around the Orthodox Church, surrounded with wire and invisible border of the town with over 20000 Albanians. Time has stopped for Serbs in Orahovac. There are more than 50 abandoned Serb houses, from whose yards one can see abducted grape vines. There’s 3 Serbian small shops where Serbs can buy usual products, a small market on the square once a week, a small football field, two bars and one restaurant…

Since the time of Albanian rule in Orahovac, after the Kosovo conflict in 1990-ies, Serbs remain without phone lines, with possible threat of electricity lack. After arrival of the KFOR soldiers in June 1999, terrorists of UCK-KLA kidnapped 43 civilians of the town whose destiny is still unknown. The only hope for Serbs kept in Orahovac ghetto is the bus line to Zvecan and Gracanica towns, which is to operate, as UNMIK promised, twice a week. Serbs don’t really dare to go downtown Orahovac and they’ve found a way to live on their own…

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