Sunday, May 23, 2010
ROMANI IN MITROVICA
21/05/2010 / KOSOVO
The Romani in Mitrovica: A decade living in squalid camps
One of our Observers in Kosovo warns us about the sanitary conditions in the north of Mitrovica, home to communities of Romani people after the end of the conflict between Serbia and Albania..
FROM THE OBSERVERS
BY Pierre Bonifassi, a student at the European Commission Liaison office to Kosovo.
According to a statement by the World Health Organization (WHO), the collateral victims of the riots in 1999, the Romanis, are now exposed to one of the biggest public health disasters in the world. During the war, about 8,000 Romanis living in "Roma Mahalla", a neighbourhood in the outskirts of Mitrovica, were forced to leave the country. Only a thousand of them remained in the area and were relocated in three camps: Cesmin Lug, Žitkovac and Kablar.
The three camps are located next to the mining complex of Trepča where emissions of lead, arsenic and cadmium have polluted the environment. Lead is a poisonous metal that can damage nervous connections (especially in young children) and cause blood and brain disorders. The sites were built near the mining complex, despite the pollution problems and the potential risks. The exposure to the emissions has had dramatic consequences. In these camps the mortality rate is much higher than normal.
National authorities and the UN closed the sites in 2004, transferring the communities to a “more healthy” camp, Osterode. Located near the Cesmin Lug camp, the new site presents the same risks as the others. Without any help from the government, the Romanis are still exposed to lead, arsenic and cadmium.
"The government is finally paying attention to the alarming situation"
National and international associations have called for the help of the government. Finally the alarming situation has caught the attention of the local authorities. The EU and the US started a project to rebuild the city of “Roma Mahalla” and gradually close the camps.
Despite the public health problems, the Romanis are worried that, after the relocation, they will stop getting benefits from the Serbian government. Unofficially, the northern part of Mitrovica is administered by the Serbs, who still grant subsidies to the Romanis. But losing the allocations is not the only worry. The Romanis also fear the reaction of the Albanian communities and violence that might follow after they are relocated.
The Romani community hasn’t been properly integrated into Kosovan society. Their social and political rights are certainly recognised by the country's constitution of 2008, as a "national minority", but they are, in reality, largely marginalised and victims of severe discrimination at all levels of society (education, employment, etc.. )."
COMMENT FROM RACHEL FRANCIS
UNITED KINGDOM ASSOCIATION OF GYPSY WOMEN
Poison Lead Camps In Kosovo
Submitted by Rachel Francis on Sat, 22/05/2010 - 02:05.
The European Union, including the United Kingdom, knowing the full circumstances of the history and existing conditions in the camps and the dire plight of the children and pregnant mothers, advocate and support a long term resettlement (3/3.5 years) plan rather than an immediate evacuation, are aiding and abetting the continuous poisoning of children by the United Nations, the UN set up the camps and maintained them till 2008, and now by the Kosovo Government, are still under the higher authority of the UN.
The United Nations Human Rights Advisory Panel (HRAP) in Kosovo made a judgement accepting the admissibility of claims against the UN which detailed multiple infringements of the human rights of these families on numerous counts. In the last few days, the UN Mission In Kosovo (UNMIK) has issued a retrospective executive directive to HRAP to reverse its decision on the grounds that third party claims are not admissible. HRAP has declared that since it is under the jurisdiction of UNMIK, it must comply with that directive and it has therefore withdrawn its previous judgment.
The British Government is a senior member of the United Nations and as such should object to this disgraceful decision.
Posted by Morgan at 10:02 AM