nettime's_roving_reporter on Sun, 11 Apr 1999 22:49:16 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> fwd: Kosovo Refugees Spurn U.S. Rations As Inedible

Sunday April 11 10:52 AM ET
Kosovo Refugees Spurn U.S. Rations As Inedible
By Matt Spetalnick

KUKES, Albania (Reuters) - Kosovo refugees are throwing away U.S.-donated
humanitarian rations by the thousands and have even burned some to keep
warm, complaining that the food is inedible and has made people sick.

Piles of unopened packages -- each labeled ``A Food Gift from the People of
the United States of America'' -- litter the grounds of makeshift camps
housing many of the 150,000 ethnic Albanians who have poured across the
border in recent weeks.

``We know the Americans want to help, but the food is just no good,'' said
18-year-old Arolelina Ajazi.

A Defense Department spokesman had trumpeted the meatless, 2,200-calorie
meals as enough to feed one refugee for a full day and ``suitable for all

Desperate refugees fought each other for the packages, officially known as
Humanitarian Daily Rations, when they were first distributed off the backs
of trucks several days ago.

But some later said the meals -- which include items such as three-bean
casserole, legume stew and vegetarian goulash which are foreign to their
normal diet -- made their children vomit.

``We don't eat it because the children get a fever and throw up and are
going to be poisoned,'' said Selvie Gashi, 27.

Many of the packages were discarded in fetid trenches and streams filled
with garbage and excrement.

Several families were seen huddling around campfires using boxes of rations
to help fuel the flames.

The refugees, who were expelled from Yugoslavia in a Serb crackdown
following the launching of a NATO bombing campaign, are used to a diet
based on potatoes, rice and beans.

Medical experts said similar problems were reported during a humanitarian
mission in Somalia, where U.S. military rations were too rich for the local

Officials of the World Food Program, which has handed out 80,000 of the
U.S. rations, were unaware of any complaints but acknowledged that the food
might have caused stomach problems.

``Actually, I have heard that refugees prefer the French humanitarian
rations,'' said Gemmo Lodesani, head of the World Food Program mission in

He contended, however, that even the parts of the rations such as cookies
and crackers which the refugees appeared to have accepted had provided
enough nutrition to save lives.

U.S. officials say the rations, a civilian version of military ready-to-eat
meals, are suitable for all religions. Most of the refugees are Muslims.

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