© 2002 Friends of Bosnia  

Winter in Kosovo
January 2000
The first winter following the war was not an easy time. The streets were covered with thick ice making the simple act of walking a life-threatening event.

Electricity is generated from one old and one ancient power plant near Pristina. Throughout the winter, days would go by without any electricity, and in Pristina, this meant no heat. Everyone had a different theory why the electricity was such a problem. Some blamed former KLA soldiers who were given management jobs at the power plant but knew little about engineering. Others suggested it was a mafia conspiracy to keep the cost of black market diesel—used to run private generators—inflated. A more likely explanation is that, prior to the war, the plant was managed by Serb engineers—all who left or were driven out of Kosovo when the war ended. Today, the plant is co-managed by UNMIK and local staff.

Many cafés had diesel generators for heat, lights, and electricity (to run the espresso machines). Other commercial establishments were only able to operate during daylight hours or by using kerosene lamps and heaters—or often with no heat at all. Public buildings such as hospitals and schools were often the worst off. The schools in Pristina were only open a few hours a day because of lack of heat, and the main hospital in Pristina often suffered power outages, despite UNMIK giving them priority status.




Above: Ice-covered street in Pristina.
1) Sleigh riding was a popular pastime for children, especially when schools were let out early due to lack of heat.
2) Child playing in an industrial junk yard near the center of Pristina.