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Almost a million people fled Kosovo during the 1996-9 war, creating one of Europe’s worst refugee crises. When families returned, they found their homes looted and some burned to the ground. With schools and livelihoods destroyed, families were faced with rebuilding their lives. We’re now working with local communities to help offer seasonal relief.

With so many men killed during the war in Kosovo and without adequate training and education, female-headed households struggle to provide for themselves. Having lost family members and witnessed scenes of intense violence, many women and children have been left psychologically traumatised.

Now almost two decades later and following the unilateral Declaration of Independence in 2008, the economy is growing steadily. However, high poverty and unemployment rates – particularly amongst Kosovo’s youth and female unofficial labour force – continue to make life incredibly difficult for many families.

Family walking through a field, holding food parcels.
Image: A family returning home after receiving Ramadan food parcels provided by Islamic Relief.

The situation in Kosovo

High poverty and unemployment rates in the country mean many families struggle to get by.


of Kosovars live in poverty (UNDP, 2017)


of the population live in extreme poverty on less than €1.02 (90p) a day (the Republic of Kosova, 2011)


of the population is unemployed (UNDP, 2017)


of young people (aged 15 – 24) are out of work (UNDP, 2017)

Islamic Relief in Kosovo

Islamic Relief began working in Kosova in 1999, as one of the first international humanitarian organisations to start working in the country after a devastating war. 

One of Islamic Relief’s early projects was a mine awareness project, helping people avoid being killed or maimed by the active mines scattered across the country. Our emergency response expanded into development programmes, supporting Kosovars to build sustainable livelihoods and recover from the lasting impact of the conflict.

Islamic Relief Kosovo’s programmes include orphan sponsorship and providing counselling to people traumatised by the war.

In 2004 we began our microfinance programmes in the country, which offer small interest-free loans to help single mothers care for their families and improve their living conditions.

In recent years Islamic Relief Kosovo has expanded operations, working with local authorities in long-term integrated projects to enable people to earn a reliable living.

Islamic Relief in action

When war broke out in 1996, almost 1 million people fled Kosova in what was then Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the First World War. After the war ended in 1999, thousands of Kosovars returned to find their homes destroyed. Many schools had also been destroyed.

Islamic Relief Kosovo implemented a shelter project which is focused on supporting those impacted by the war, with a focus on improving orphans living conditions. This has rebuilt homes, schools, and other important infrastructure.

Ramadan Islamic Relief staff member handing lady a food parcel.
Image: An Islamic Relief aid worker distributes Ramadan food parcels.

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