The Photo of the Kosovar Albanian Refugee Woman that Made the World Cry

“It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. It is a moment captured by Reuters’ Bosnian photographer, Damir Sagolj, who turned Sherife Luta from Kaçanik of Kosova into the symbol of Kosovo’s refugee drama in the village of Bllacë of Macedonia 19 years ago” (1999).

Kosovar Albanian Refugee Woman

This short life story about Albanian woman hero Sherife Luta from Ivaja village of a small Kaçanik city of Kosova Republic is so painful but the end is delightful. The whole world should enjoy this story from 20 years ago i.e. March of 1999. It was a tearful time, when this woman was seen with her baby girl of 6 months old. She carried the baby in her hands during the long hard journey over 24 hours walking through the cold, stormy and snowy mountains of Kaçanik, fleeing before the barbarous Serbian paramilitary, military and police forces.

This story was painful because the hero Sherife Luta thought her baby Besjana died during that long and hard journey of 24 hours. She thought her baby was frozen from the cold winter weather, and she was no longer crying.

That bad state of the baby greatly disturbed her mother Sherife, who thought the worst that her baby had died from freezing.

Here’s how Sherife explains that difficult moment of her life when with her baby girl Besjana fled from the barbarian Serbian enemy in the bloody March of 1999 : “After we had walked 24 hours without interruption, the baby was frozen and did not cry anymore. I thought that she was died. However, my sister-in-law took her and put it near the stove in a room of the home of the Bllacë village. After ten minutes she started crying and other refugees began to applaud. There I started crying too. I had a lot of emotions. When we arrived in the village of Bllacë, some journalists came and took the picture. They also told me to reveal the baby’s face but I did not have strength, I just wanted to walk.” (See in: ).

kosovars emigrating. story of kosovar albanian refugee woman.
kosovars emigrating

20 Years Later

During the past 20 years, lucky Besjana lives in her home with her mother, Albanian refugee woman, Sherife Luta. Together they survived the Serbian terror and genocide in March in 1999.

Besijana who was a baby girl of 6 month old in 1999, today in 2019 is grown and a happy girl. She lives in her house together with her Mother-Hero, Sherife Luta, two brothers and her father Mirvat who joined them after the war was over in Kosova (June 12, 1999). Mirvat was in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighting for freedom and liberation of Kosovo against the conquering Serbian aggressor (1989-1999).

Today, Besijana Luta has reason to feel lucky because her mother Sherife risked sacrificing her life to escaped from death, and her father Mirvat gave her and Kosova freedom and peace.

Fortunately, today, hero Sherife Luta with her daughter Besjana, two sons and her husband Mirvat are safe and sound. They are lucky to live in their picturesque town of Kaçanik in freedom, peace and happiness because they were rescued from the terror and massacres.

This life drama with its successful Kosovar refugee protagonists Sherife and Besijana Luta, who survived the Serbian war in 1999, today makes people around the world very happy.

Mehdi Hyseni Ph.D.
Mehdi Hyseni is an Albanian Ph.D. in International Political Relations, residing in Boston.