Tuesday, May 31, 2011




Blindspot: Kosovo Roma and the Decade (2011)



In 1999, more than 100,000 Roma fled Kosovo and sought refuge in other countries. The needs of these people are not reflected in programs conducted under the Decade, concludes this report by Mensur Haliti.

During the conflict in Kosovo in 1999, more than 100,000 Roma were forced to leave Kosovo and seek refuge in Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and countries in Western Europe. They lost all their property and most of their possessions, and the drama of their displacement was an exceptional but underreported human tragedy.

But their problems did not end upon their arrival in safer neighboring states. The immediate trauma of “escaping” with their “bare lives” was worsened by the somewhat lesser but debilitating trauma of non-acceptance, ignorance, and outright neglect in their new home countries, where they often have been pushed to the very margins of society. After unexpectedly obtaining new identities as internally displaced persons or refugees, they faced a search for sufficient housing and the daily struggle for survival.

Eleven years after their expulsion, the Roma from Kosovo are still afraid and feel the injustice of being forced to leave. They are lost and without hope, knowing that their currently miserable living conditions are nearly impossible to surmount. They believe that neither integration nor return is possible. Their dire poverty is also a severe handicap when it comes to accessing both formal and informal institutional networks of social assistance. For instance, Roma from Kosovo are unemployed because they are poor and without skills and qualifications, and poor because they are unemployed or do the lowest paid jobs. Thus their circle of poverty is complete. The bases for their economic activities are at the edge of cities and often in containers adapted into living quarters near large landfills overflowing with garbage.

National governments have made some efforts to address the needs of their most vulnerable citizens, including the Roma from Kosovo. Despite these efforts, the Roma from Kosovo remain one of the most vulnerable groups still heavily affected by the consequences of the Kosovo conflict in 1999. The failure of governments to include the Roma from Kosovo in any programs or initiatives like National Strategies for the Roma 8or Comprehensive National Strategic Documents for the accession of these countries to the European Union undermines any progress made so far.

The governments of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina have joined the regional initiative called the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015. By doing so, these countries have assumed the obligation to work systematically and continuously on improving the situation of their Roma communities.

However, while a considerable number of Roma from Kosovo live in these countries, and this initiative is also an opportunity for the inclusion of the Roma from Kosovo, this is not reflected in the programs so far conducted by the governments within the framework of the Decade. As a result, the Roma from Kosovo remain without the possibility to effectively use and access these programs.

The Balkan wars of the 1990s heavily influenced the relations between the European Union and these countries. The resolution of the status of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees became one of the main issues on the political agenda of the European Union concerning these countries. The European Union has issued reports in which it determines the progress of the countries involved in the process of European Union accession, as well as reports which identify the measures that the governments must take for the Roma from Kosovo in order to achieve the desired progress. Still, there is serious concern about the process of return and integration. In practice, this process is not taking place at the desired speed. It is impossible to measure the results of the government programs targeting the Roma from Kosovo, whose living conditions are beneath human dignity and unacceptable for Europe in the 21st century.

- Mensur Haliti

Decade of Roma Inclusion Documents


But  this statement does not talk about the situation of the Romani IN Kosovo

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