Seven years after Kosovo’s independence, the young nation has found itself in the worst economic and political crisis since the brutal 1998-1999 war with Serbia, which prompted a 78 day NATO bombing campaign to drive out Yugoslav forces out of Kosovo. Poverty, unemployment and corruption are rampant. With a youth unemployment rate of 60%, it is among the highest in Europe, according to UN figures. As a result of these grim economic prospects, thousands of Kosovars have fled the country for destinations throughout Western Europe.
Some Kosovars say that the mass exodus is worse than the refugee crisis during the war 16 years ago.
Kosovo has one of the highest levels of poverty in Europe. According to the UNDP, the country has more people live in extreme poverty than ten years ago. Pristina, Kosovo.
An unemployed man bares the frigid temperatures without shoes while begging for money behind the National Theater in the center of the city. Pristina, Kosovo.
Nazim Korca, 62 (left) is an Albanian language professor in east Kosovo but comes weekly to the old bazaar in Pristina to sell herbs and tea leaves to sustain a proper living. Pristina, Kosovo.
A woman begs for money on a busy sidewalk in the center of the city. Pristina, Kosovo.
A young boy plays a drum on Mother Teresa Boulevard in the center of the city. Pristina, Kosovo.
One of the many cafés in downtown Pristina that is often busy throughout the day. Cafés are popular throughout Kosovo, especially in the larger cities and towns. Though the unemployment rate is so high in Kosovo, people will still join friends to drink a 1 euro macchiato. Pristina, Kosovo.
A young boy named Jusuf collects trash from dumpsters behind the University of Pristina. Pristina, Kosovo.
Florian, 12 (right) sells pumpkin seeds with his younger cousin during Independence Day in downtown Pristina. He works when he’s not in school in order to support his family. Pristina, Kosovo.
A mass of people crowd the Pristina bus station on February 4, 2015. Ten buses departed the station for Belgrade that night, taking nearly 500 people to Serbia’s capital. From there, the migrants will take another bus to the border of Hungary, where they will cross illegally and try to make their way into the European Union. An estimated 50,000 people left Kosovo during January and February in search of better economic opportunities in western Europe. Pristina, Kosovo.
A man says goodbye to a passenger on the bus departing for Belgrade on February 4, 2015.
A young boy waits with his parents and siblings at the bus station on February 4, 2015. Their final destination in western Europe is unknown. Pristina, Kosovo.
One of the ten buses is loaded with passengers leaving Pristina for Belgrade on February 4, 2015. Pristina, Kosovo.
A woman joins the crowd of people leaving Kosovo on February 4, 2015. Pristina, Kosovo.
A sign at the Pristina bus station on February 16, 2015 lists 10 reasons why not to immigrate. One of the reasons said that Kosovo is on the list of safe countries where there is no war or conflict. Pristina, Kosovo.