22 February 2008 – In a press statement released today, UNICEF Germany draws the attention to difficult situation of Roma children in Kosovo. According to a recent survey, Roma children are poorer, receive a worse medical treatment, go less seldom to school, and live in more difficult housing conditions than their Albanian and Serbian peers.  The statement also says that many Roma children need to work in order to contribute to the family income.

UNICEF points out at the fact that Kosovo Roma got in between the frontlines between ethnic Albanians and Serbs, and that the majority of them were driven out of Kosovo after the NATO intervention and their settlements destroyed. The organisation outlines that only a few Roma have returned to Kosovo which explains their small percentage among  Kosovo’s population.

The organisation also points out at the fact that many Kosovo Roma continue to live in IDP camps within Kosovo which they are afraid to leave given the unstable security situation.  59 percent of the Kosovo Roma live below the minimum of subsistence, UNICEF says.

 According to UNICEF ambassador Steffen Seibert who visited Kosovo last year, only education can create the long-time conditions for the social participation of Roma. In order to reduce prejudice and create trust, Roma children should go to school together with Albanian and Serbian children, he suggests, emphasising, though, that they need to be sure that they will not be discriminated against in school or become victims of violence.

The full text of the statement (in German) is available here.

The TV report of Steffen Seibert’s visit to Kosovo can be watched here.