Pristina, 31 January 2009: A World Health Organization official says Kosovo must close down lead-contaminated camps in the tiny Balkan country’s industrial north where about 100 Gypsy families live.

WHO regional director Dorit Nitzan says tests have shown levels of lead contamination are “severe” though they are falling.

Nitzan said Saturday the area should be declared hazardous for humans, and its residents should be moved.

The makeshift camps are located near a smelter that is part of the Trepca mining complex in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica.

The Gypsies, also known as Roma, have lived in the camps since their homes were torched just after Kosovo’s 1998-99 war with Serb troops. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia last year.

Source: The Associated Press