In Montenegro, Memories of Pain and Generosity on the Refugee Road

Dejan, then 20, had been nearing the end of his military service in Kosovo, then a southern province of Serbia, when NATO launched air strikes to halt a brutal Serbian counter-insurgency war. At the time, Serbia and Montenegro were all that was left of Yugoslavia, still joined together after the other four republics - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia - had seceded.

Bogovic, who was terrified for his son, let the family in. "They looked terribly traumatised," he recalled. "We didn't know anything about their history except that they were from the Prizren region" in southern Kosovo.

The family, Kosovo Albanians, told Bogovic that Dejan, while patrolling, had met their neighbour, an elderly Serb woman, who told him about them and how one of their children had been beheaded by Serb paramilitaries. Dejan gave the woman the address of his parents in Ulcinj and told her to tell the family that they would be welcome there, if they could escape.

"And days later that's what they did," said Bogovic, now 70 years old. "I saw their silent sorrow. They couldn't bury their son themselves. I think there is nothing worse than a refugee mother who has left behind her murdered son."

Soon after, Bogovic took in two other families, part of a huge wave of Albanian refugees driven from Kosovo in a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing. Some ended up in Ulcinj, which sits near the border with Albania and where the majority of the population is Albanian.

Some of the refugees ended up heading further west into Europe, while others returned to Kosovo when the war ended and NATO troops deployed on the heels of withdrawing Serbian forces. Then others arrived, this time Serbs, Roma and other minorities from Kosovo. Many of them never...

Continue reading on: