DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     April 23-25, 1999     vol. 10, no. 80

from a CATHOLIC perspective:


  • Nobel Peace Prize Winners' Proposal for Peace in Kosovo
  • Kosovo Refugees Forced Into Prostitution By Organized Crime
Scroll down to read the story of your choice courtesy of ZENIT


Resolution of Conflict Must Come through United Nations

          ROME, APR 22 (ZENIT).- Following an audience with John Paul II, the participants in the first summit of Nobel Peace Prize Winners, held in Rome from April 21-22 and sponsored by the Gorbachov Foundation, presented their proposal for the reestablishment of peace in Kosovo on the Capitoline hill of the Eternal City.

          The document is the fruit of the collaboration of Betty Williams, Frederik de Klerk, Rigoberta Menchú, Simon Peres, David Trimble, Joseph Rotblat and Mikhail Gorbachov.

          On behalf of the participants in the summit, Mikhail Gorbachov, the former Soviet president, said that the peace proposal for Kosovo is based on the immediate suspension of military activities and the beginning of direct negotiations among the contending parties. Specifically, the Nobel winners called for the urgent return of the refugees to Kosovo, based on the guarantee of a broad autonomy for the separatist province and on the decisive intervention of the international community in humanitarian support for these people. These measures must be implemented as the "highest priorities."

          The summit participants also support the presence of a multinational force under the direction of the United Nations, with the express approval of the Security Council.

          Finally, the Nobel Prize winners believe the conflict will not end unless an international conference is called which, in the words of Mikhail Gorbachov, would allow for the "Europeanization of the Balkans instead of the Balkanization of Europe."

          The participants expressed their willingness to mediate in the crisis. In fact, they want to collaborate with the U.N. and Kofi Annan, its secretary, to put an end to this war and prevent new threats and possible dangers to peace. They even stated that they are ready to travel to Belgrade to attempt direct mediation.

          At the end of the press conference, the participants said it was inadmissible to use force to solve problems of a strictly political nature and, therefore, are convinced these can only be resolved through diplomacy. ZE99042206


Kosovo Women Enticed or Forced Into Prostitution

          RIMINI, APR 22 (ZENIT).- Another horror in the drama of the Kosovo war has come to light: the Mafia is recruiting, and at times kidnapping, young women refugees from the camps for purposes of prostitution.

          The alarm was given by Italian NGOs working in the Albanian capital and familiar with the world of prostitution. They have denounced seeing unidentified armed men entering the camps to "choose the best merchandise" from among the already undernourished and desperate women refugees.

          Although the immediate danger has been averted by the intervention of the Albanian police, the prostitution Mafia continues to act.

          Mauro Valeri, coordinator of the Italian NGOs, said that in "Albania, criminal prostitution has a large organization which, in order to keep going, needs a new 'work force.' In general, the Albanian girls already know what can happen to them in Italy but, at present, organized crime is tapping young refugee women, who are unaware of the situation."

          Father Oreste Benzi of Rimini, Italy, who carries out pastoral work in favor of enslaved prostitutes who want to change their life style, confirms the alarm coming from Albania.

          "The outbreak of the war meant a marked increase in the number of prostitutes in Italy coming from Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo; they are increasingly younger and are added to the slave market. One more horror within the horror of war," Father Benzi said, who is the founder of the John XXIII Association. Moreover, "There were young girls arriving from Kosovo even before the war. But now the phenomenon is intensifying, and made easier by the great number of young people in the refugee camps."

          The climate of uncertainty facilitates the recruitment of the young girls who, at times, are sold by their own families. "The deceits, kidnappings and sales increase, directed by organized crime, especially among 12-14 year-old adolescents, for which families are paid, or payment of $5,000 to $7,000 is made to a recruiter or kidnapper.

          In Italy the price can be as high as $20,000 according to what three girls, to whom Father Benzi's association has given shelter, have told the police. Thanks to their information, a Mafia chief of one of the most dangerous gangs, has been arrested.

          "Without a doubt, the war encourages this crime against women and against humanity," Father Benzi concluded. ZE99042202

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and ZENIT International News Agency. All three are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

April 23-25, 1999       volume 10, no. 80


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