French-Serbian humanitarian prevented from entering Kosovo

French-Serbian humanitarian Arno Gujon (Arnaud Gouillon) has told B92.net that he was banned from entering Kosovo and Metohija on Monday.

Source: B92, Spasoje Veselinovic
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And this ban without any explanation and any time limit, Gouillon added.

Media reports said earlier in the day that members of the Kosovo police had stated that according to their view, Gouillon "had no permit to visit" the self-proclaimed state.

Gouillon spoke for B92.net on his way back to central Serbia - after failing to enter Kosovo, where he was due to attend the opening of a poultry farm belonging to a soup kitchen of the Serbian Orthodox Church's Raska-Prizren Diocese in the Serb village of Prekovce, near Novo Brdo.

"They banned me from entering Kosovo and Metohija after I showed them my Serbian ID card while trying to enter. They said to get out of the car, and a customs officer told a policeman to bring me in and handcuff me. That policeman was a Serb and did not put me in handcuffs, but they took me to some room, searched both me and the car, for a total of three hours. They also sent a team of Pristina security forces to question me as if I were a criminal - why was I going, where was I going, whom was I helping, which organization I represented - and I have been doing this for 14 years, I go to Kosovo and Metohija and publish everything we are doing both in French and in Serbian," he said.

Gouillon added that the likely reason he was held today was the desire to intimidate him.

"They handed me a ban on entering Kosmet (Kosovo and Metohija) without any explanation, without a time limit... They also brought into question the help that we provide to the Serb people. As a humanitarian organization, we control the whole chain, from fundraising in France, to the final destination, monitor what we have invested the money in, know who we are helping and who is receiving it. The ban on entering Kosmet puts our entire work into question... How to develop projects and campaigns when I cannot meet with the people to whom it is meant for," asked Gouillon.

As he pointed out, he went to Kosmet to attend the opening of a poultry farm, a 50,000 euro investment that will employ a number of people, while the plan was also to in the next few days visit schools that have been renovated with twice as big sums.

"It is serious assistance, and I have a responsibility towards those donating the money and I have to be there when assistance is presented. I cannot be helping from Paris... They are now detaining not only Serbs, but also those who help Serb enclaves in Kosovo and Metohija. It's dangerous and sends a bad message to everyone," Gouillon said.

Also stopped today were members of the "Serbs for Serbs" humanitarian organization, who also took part in the financing and establishment of the farm that was supposed to be open.

"They were immediately released, while I was kept... What can I do going forward, lodge complaints... This is like not allowing a doctor to use a stethoscope... My life has been linked with Kosovo and Metohija since I was 19 years old, if I can no longer go to Gracanica, to Visoki Decani... They are questioning everything we've done in the past 14 years. I wish the Serb people didn't need the assistance, but they do, and instead of helping with this, they are banning us, too," Gouillon said.

He stressed that he was in touch with Bishop Teodosije, and added that he will also make contact with "everyone who can make decisions, and help."

"It's a question that concerns not only myself and the organization, but also the people whom we are helping. I'll knock on every door, I will not reconcile myself with this. This is a big injustice," Gouillon concluded in his statement for B92.net.

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