Seventh session
Agenda item 3
4 March 2008



United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo

Communication sent

135. As a follow-up to previous communications, on 10 January 2007, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, the Special Rapporteur on toxic wastes and the Independent Expert on Minority Issues, concerning the issue of the camps for internally displaced persons affected by lead contamination in northern Mitrovica/Mitrovicë. The Special Rapporteurs thanked for the reply dated 11 April 2006 concerning a previous communication (dated 27 March 2006) and which indicated certain positive measures and developments. However, requests for information in the letter of 27 March 2006 on the provision of emergency medical treatment to affected persons were only briefly addressed in the Government’s response. In the meantime according to the information received the Žitkovac/Zhikovc and Kablare/Kablar camps have been closed after their inhabitants voluntarily moved to the Osterode camp (mainly between March and July 2006), but that up to 150 individuals still remain in the Česmin Lug/Çesmin Llugë camp. Furthermore it is reported specialized medical treatment for some of the residents of the Osterode camp commenced at the end of August. The medical evidence revealing widespread lead poisoning among persons belonging to Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian minority groups who lived in or still live in the Žitkovac/Zhikovc, Česmin Lug/Çesmin Llugë and Kablare/Kablar camps, appears to be both unanimous and overwhelming. The Special Rapporteurs appreciate the work of UNMIK with respect to closing down these three contaminated camps, and relocating the majority of IDPs to the Osterode camp. However, it is alleged that Osterode camp is also located on contaminated soil. Furthermore, it is alleged that with the exception of members of the Mustafa family who have received treatment in Germany with the assistance of several NGOs, children affected by lead poisoning did not start to receive medical treatment until late August and that many remain to be treated.

Response received

136. By letter dated 16 April 2007, the UNMIK replied to the urgent appeal transmitted on 10 January 2007 by the Special Rapporteur jointly with the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment on human rights and the Independent Expert on Minority Issues concerning the camps for internally displaced persons affected by lead contamination in northern Mitrovica/Mitrovicë. The UNMIK informed the Special Rapporteurs that the construction of two apartment blocks at Roma Mahala able to accommodate 24 families had been completed and that two similar apartments’ blocks would have been completed by 31 July 2007 for a total of 48 families. 12 of these apartments are earmarked for Cesmin Lug/Llugë residents. At the time of sending this communication 170 Roma, Ashkalis or Egyptians persons had moved to Roma Mahala from camp Osterode and Cesmin Lug/Llugë, as well as 130 Roma, Ashkalis or Egyptians from Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia. This left 395 Roma, Ashkalis or Egyptians individuals living at Camps Osterode and 100 living at Cesmin Lug/Llugë. Camp Osterode remains a Mitrovicë/Mitrovica Municipality. Cesmin Lig/Llugë is managed by UNMIK Administration Mitrovica (UAM) which provides the services of a full time nurse who operates a clinic that provides primary health care services to the remaining RAE community. UNMIK also informed that due to the prevailing political situation in the northern part of Mitrovbicë/Mitrovica, Serbian politicians have clearly reiterated that they will not accept forced relocation under any circumstances. The UNMIK stated that the force closure of Cesmin Lug/Llugë is impractical at this time but every effort is made by UNMIK to convince the remaining occupants to move voluntarily to Roma Mahala. 37 private houses have been constructed/reconstructed under the patronage of Danish Refugee Council with funds provided by the Swedish Government and the European Agency for Reconstruction. 20 more houses would have been occupied on 30 June 2007 as more Roma, Ashkalis and Egyptians households will occupy their former houses. Out of the 130 mentioned above, 49 individuals have moved into private housing and 81 into completed two apartment blocks; all from Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia. UNMIK also informed that the United Nations Development program would have taken over the Roma Mahala project from the UNMIK Department of Civil Administration, effective 1 June 2007. The UNDP will be responsible for the planning, execution and canvassing of potential donors in the second phase of the Roma Mahala project. On health issues, the UNMIK affirmed that the Camp Osterode is monitored periodically for lead contamination by the World Health Organization and UAM technical experts. Camp Osterode is a former Serbian Logistic Base occupying premises that are covered in concrete or asphalts. The WHO Chelation Therapy Clinic has been in operation since March 2006 and out of a population of 100 children, has treated 37 children with 12 children needing second phase therapy. The other children were able to recover through additional food supplements. The clinic will be removed to Roma Mahala on completion of the ambulanta presently completing construction. Public health services are being offered to the Roma, Ashkalis and Egyptian communities at health clinics and public hospitals located in the southern and northern parts of Mitrovicë/Mitrovica Municipality. The aim is to provide integrated health services and improved living conditions at Roma Mahala. UNMIK plans to hand over Camps Osterode to a successor organization by the end of 2007.


137. The Special Rapporteur thanks the UNMIK for its reply to the joint allegation letter transmitted on 10 January 2007. He will continue to monitor the situation, and particularly the condition of Roma, Ashkalis and Egyptians families and individuals that are still living at Camps Osterode and at Cesmin Lug/Llugë.