9 June 2009 – On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the end of the war over Kosovo, Chachipe has issued an urgent call to the EU to find a solution to the refugee crisis. Ten years after the end of the war, several ten thousand Kosovo Roma are still waiting for their cases to be resolved, the organisation says in a letter to the European Council.

In this letter, Chachipe expresses its concern at the recent signature of a bilateral readmission agreement between the Kosovo authorities and the German government as well as at ongoing negations with the governments of other host countries. “Two weeks ago, we have witnessed the deportation of a young Rom and father of two German born children from Germany to Kosovo, in violation some of the most fundamental international human rights standards such as the protection of family life and in contradiction with the position of the UNHCR on the need for continued international protection of individuals from Kosovo,” the organisation says.

According to Chachipe, the pressure on Kosovo Roma refugees to return to Kosovo, in some countries, has become such, that it has triggered a new refugee movement within the EU where refugees seek to escape their deportation by moving from one country to the other. As a result, however, they risk to be deported on the basis of the Dublin II convention, which determines the responsibilities for the treatment of asylum application, which rest with the country of entry.

Chachipe also draws a light on the situation of the refugees in the Kosovo’s neighbouring countries and in Kosovo itself, where refugees are forced to live under miserable and sometimes life-threatening conditions. “In none of these countries did the Kosovo Roma have a true chance to have their right to asylum fulfilled, but have been accepted on the basis of ad hoc policies, which are phasing out with the decrease of international assistance and attention,” the organisation says. “Just as for those who have been kept under temporary protection in EU member states, they have been refused the chance to integrate and start a new life.”

The organisation calls on the European Council and the European member states to find a sustainable solution to the refugee crisis. Accordingly, the plight of the Kosovo Roma calls on the responsibility of the EU in many ways, starting with the EU’s involvement in the Kosovo conflict. As a first step, Chachipe calls for an immediate end of forced repatriation of Roma to Kosovo. This needs to be completed by an EU-wide regularisation of Kosovo Roma refugees and the launch of integration programmes in the countries of South East Europe to be subsidised by the EU.

Chachipe says that the solution of the refugee crisis is intrinsically linked with the post-conflict settlement in Kosovo. It asked for a reopening of the property return and compensation schemes, since many Roma have been unable to claim their rights. It also asks for a thorough investigation of human rights abuses against Roma and the persecution and bringing before justice of presumed war criminals. “This is not only a matter of justice, but also a necessary precondition for safe and sustainable returns,” the organisation says in its letter.

Finally, the organisation requests the EU to facilitate the creation of a representative body which could act as an interlocutor with international organisations and national governments on issues affecting the Kosovo Roma, and for these issues to be discussed as a matter of priority at the next council meetings.

Chachipe a.s.b.l.