1 October 2009 – The Roma rights organisation Chachipe has strongly condemned the forced repatriation, on Monday, of several Roma from Germany to Kosovo, on the basis of a readmission agreement, which was concluded, earlier this year, between the German federal government and the Kosovo authorities. Chachipe said that the forced repatriation of Roma to Kosovo was in violation of the UNHCR position on continued international protection needs of individuals from Kosovo, according to which the security situation for Roma in Kosovo is still fragile, and accused the German authorities of trying to misconstrue the situation and downplaying the security risks in a move to rid of the Roma.

“Contrary to what is said by the German authorities the situation of Roma in Kosovo has not improved drastically. Roma continue to be victims of widespread discrimination and violations of their basic human rights. Their exclusion from the official labour market is such that they are almost confined to occasional jobs such as scrap metal collection. They are heavily relying on humanitarian assistance and remittances from their relatives abroad,” Chachipe said. The organisation added that the forced repatriation of several thousands of Roma would only put additional stress on a community which is already struggling for its survival.

Chachipe highlighted that Roma continue to be exposed to acts of harassment and intimidation. “We regularly receive reports regarding assaults on Roma,” the organisation said. “However, Roma are afraid to report these acts to the police and even if they do so, their complaints are not always followed up properly, leading to the arrest and bringing to justice of the culprit.” Only a few weeks ago, Chachipe issued a report showing how the underreporting of ethnically motivated violence by the Kosovo police is reflected by international organisations. Chachipe concluded that the decision to return Roma to Kosovo is based on an incomplete and partial assessment of their security situation.

Chachipe said that it was not without reason that the UNHCR had resisted pressures to change its position regarding the continued need for international protection of Kosovo Roma. “The UNHCR is convinced that the security situation for Roma in Kosovo continues to be fragile, which was confirmed in a statement to the Conference of the Ministers of Interior, in May.” Chachipe blamed the German authorities for purposely ignoring the warnings of the UNHCR. The organisation said that some German politicians had gone as far to claim that the UN Refugee Agency has given its avail to the forced repatriation of Roma to Kosovo.

Cachipe also objected to the claim, that Germany had been particularly generous towards the refugees, and that this generosity was now exhausted. The organisation said that while it is true that Germany has taken in many refugees from Kosovo, it should not be forgotten, that many of them had been living in Germany before as “Gastarbeiters”. Moreover, many people who would have qualified for asylum in other countries, were merely granted temporary protection in Germany. “This is particularly the case for Roma who are now facing deportation,” the organisation added.

Chachipe expressed its outrage at the argument according to which Roma would have to return to Kosovo for Kosovo to become a multiethnic country. “This argument is outmost cynical and hypocritical. It should first be reminded that the Roma have been driven out from Kosovo, and in ten years, the international community has been unable to create the conditions for their safe return. Their interests have been sacrificed and abandoned in an attempt to pacify the antagonisms between Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs. Now, they are requested to return in order to make it possible for the international community to say that Kosovo has become a multi-ethnic country which deserves to be an independent state!”

Chachipe said that given the poor security situation and the lack of economic perspectives, the forced return of Roma to Kosovo was an experiment on human beings. The organisation renewed its call on the German authorities to stop deporting Roma to Kosovo and to grant them a permanent residence status. The organisation said that Germany had not only a historic responsibility towards Roma resulting from the genocide under National-Socialism, but also that it was a humanitarian requirement to prevent further suffering and hardship.