UNDP representative in Kosovo Andrew Russell has been a guest on the Slobodno Srpski talk show, produced by the New Press and Media Center in Caglavica.
He spoke with host Budimir Nincic about UNDP’s recent report about citizens of Kosovo who joined extremist groups in Syria, to say that no such cases had been recorded in the past two years.
Russell recalled that 335 citizens of Kosovo, mostly young and unemployed, went to Syria between 2012 and 2015.
“75 percent of those who went were men, 18 percent were women, there were also children as well – based on official statistics by the Kosovo police. Yes, predominantly Kosovo Albanian, that’s because we’re in a predominantly Kosovo Albania society. There were others from other minorities who go. Most of them are young – looks like 60 percent were between the ages of 18 and 38. So this is young group – not entirely, but predominantly,” he said.
Socio-economic aspects are, according to the UN official, one of the main motives for those who “traveled” to Syria from Kosovo, but there are also other factors.
“76 percent of those who traveled were unemployed, prior to traveling. It means that actually 25 percent had a job, so it’s not the only motivating factor. Many of them also reported that the tried to go West. They were perhaps one of the Kosovars that got on the bus and tried to go into Western Europe, but were unable to,” Russell said.
Commenting on the report’s finding that 55 women and 27 from Kosovo went to foreign battlefields, he said they mainly went as “complete families” and that the women in question did not directly participate in the fighting but rather had the role of “following their husbands and taking care of the home.”
Other topics, including violence against women and organized crime and corruption, were also discussed during the interview.