Youth from Gracanica migrating due to unemployment, lack of safety and the uncertain political situation

The feeling that a large number of young people from all communities leave Kosovo on an almost daily basis is subjective. They are leaving in search of a better quality of life or, as they say, because of the lack of safety and the uncertain political situation. Local institutions do not have adequate budgets to fulfill the wishes and demands of the youth, the central institutions do not try hard enough, but the young people are also quite inactive, failing to participate in creating their own future.

In a post-conflict society such as Kosovo, the most vulnerable groups are non-majority communities, especially young people. Young ethnic Serbs living south of the Ibar river leave Kosovo daily in search of better lives. The reasons for this decision are numerous.

According to Dusan Borisavljevic from the Gracanica Municipality Youth Council, one of the most common problems is the freedom of movement and language rights.

„Our language is not used as it should be used at a central level and in other parts, not in Serb-majority municipalities,” he said, adding:

“Economic issues are also evident everywhere, the effort to keep the young people here and motivate them to stay, not just to educate them and let them leave, thus creating an even bigger problem,” Borisavljevic stressed.

Unemployment is one of the main reasons young people decide to leave. Public transportation is also a problem, NGOs warn.

“We should begin with unemployment. Its main cause is the lack of a socio-economic system that would keep young people here, and which would provide a framework where they could act, earn and work on improving themselves. These are some basic problems,” said Stefan Filipovic from the NGO “Center for Peace and Tolerance”. 

According to Filipovic, there is a need to be “very critical and self-critical,” as Kosovo Serb society lacks the main motivators who would animate our society.

“We need those young people. That’s why we have these problems and that’s why young people are leaving and that’s why this turned into an irreversible process,” he said.

„The biggest problem for young people is unemployment. Speaking of our municipality, another problem is that there is no public transportation, whether it is municipal, whether it is urban, young people from villages such as Batuse, Lepina, Gusterica, cannot come to Gracanica as the center of our municipality to do whatever they need to or just to have a cup of coffee,” Lazar Danic of NGO “Young Active Gracanica” emphasized.

„In search of a better life, young people are leaving to places where they feel more free and secure. I think that young people are overwhelmed by everyday events, unhappy with the political and economic situation, and I think that is one of the biggest reasons why young people decide to leave,“ said Petar Djordjevic.

High school and university students from Gracanica municipality are not sure whether they will continue their education in Kosovo and if they will look for work elsewhere.

According to a survey by the NGO “Communication for the Development of Society”, the silent migration of young Serbs from Serb-majority municipalities south of Ibar is not only a subjective feeling but a reality.

„The survey shows that more than 76% of respondents plan to leave Kosovo. I think this is a really alarming piece of information,” Ivan Nikolic from the  NGO Communication for the Development of Society said, adding that information alone should be enough to motivate the decision-makers to deal with this issue. 

“The reasons behind this are different. More than 45% of respondents say that the primary reason is the safety situation, a number say that they are not satisfied with the economic situation, the situation in other systems, in other institutions,” Nikolic said.

“On the other hand, 70% of respondents say they have a job and believe that their living standards are satisfactory, but they are also not satisfied with their quality of life and that this is the reason why they leave.”

This reportage was supported by KoSSev, IOM and the British Embassy and it does not necessarily reflect the views of donors.




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