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May 2 2020

Patrolling with the Hungarian Soldiers of KFOR

PRISTINA - KFOR’s mission contributing to maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo goes on. Patrols continue 24/7 throughout the whole area of operations. Soldiers remain vigilant, while taking all necessary precautions to contain the spread of Covid-19, following the World Health Organization recommendations.

First Lieutenant Patrick Szöllösi of the 5th Infantry Brigade of the Hungarian Army wears a mask during the pre-mission briefing with his crew of five, who are also wearing personal protection equipment. The patrol will depart from Camp Novo Selo, home to the Hungarian-led Tactical Reserve Battalion of the NATO-led force, and will head south towards Pristina before continuing on to Orahovac, in the South-West. Szöllösi, on his first tour of duty in Kosovo, carefully checks that everything is in order before leaving the base for an 8-hour patrol: communications, vehicles, weapons, food and water.

The heavy traffic that usually congests Pristina is absent. Only a few cars are overtaken by KFOR vehicles, while the Kosovo Police perform regular checkpoints. Hungarian Soldiers wave to local policemen, all wearing protection masks. On the main roads all shops are closed, with the exception of pharmacies, bakeries and grocery stores, where customers are asked to respect social distancing and to use personal protection items. Fewer people are on the streets on the outskirts of Pristina, where shop windows are empty. The patrol makes random stops along the route to observe the situation on the ground and to report to the operations centre.

After a quick pause for lunch, the Hungarian Soldiers continue their mission. The weather remains mild rather than warm, as witnessed by the distant snowy peaks, which for the past several months set the amazing backdrop of the Kosovo landscape. Patrolling goes on in rural areas, where people working in the fields are observed, and villages appear motionless. Occasionally, a few kids cheer KFOR vehicles advancing slowly in inhabited but scarcely crowded areas on the first day of May. At dusk Szöllösi and his young Soldiers return to the base, while other KFOR patrols are sent out to monitor and assess the situation on the ground, with an eye to the prevention of Covid19

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