2000 Photo Contest, World Press Photo of the Year

Claus Bjørn Larsen

fo Berlingske Tidende

05 April, 1999

A man walks the streets in Kukës, Albania, one of the largest gathering points for ethnic Albanian refugees fleeing violence in Kosovo.

Conflict in Kosovo between Serbian security forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army, an ethnic Albanian separatist movement, flared up in 1998. NATO intervened in March 1999 with air strikes against Serbian forces. In the first week after NATO started its offensive against Serbia, 118,000 ethnic Albanians fled the increased Serbian violence in Kosovo. The volume of the exodus surprised governments and aid agencies. United Nations officials had expected a total of 100,000 people to leave, but nearly a million ethnic Albanians eventually fled the country.

Initially, many refugees headed to Macedonia, but the authorities feared further ethnic tension as there was already a sizeable Albanian minority living there. Extra camps were set up in Albania, where more than 50,000 people ended up near the town of Kukës. It is estimated that the vast majority of the 1.8 million people living in Kosovo had to leave their homes during the conflict. Many people were trapped inside the country itself, hiding out in forests and in the hills.

The man pictured is proud that this photo made him the face of the Kosovo uprising, and has it hanging on his wall.

About the photographer

Claus Bjørn Larsen

Claus Bjørn Larsen (Holbæk, Denmark, 1963) started his career in 1984 as a darkroom volunteer in 1984 for the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet. After finishing his military service, ...

Technical information

Focal length
50 mm

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