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Pristina, 28 October 2010 – Roma and related minority groups deported from Western Europe to Kosovo face discrimination and severe deprivation amounting to human rights abuse, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 77-page report, “Rights Displaced: Forced Returns of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians from Western Europe to Kosovo,” documents the serious human rights problems faced by those who left Kosovo for Western Europe but were subsequently sent back. They experience problems getting identity documents as well as regaining possession of any property they own. They also have difficulties accessing housing, health care, employment, and social welfare services. Many end up in places where they are separated from family members. The deportations are especially hard on children, few of whom stay in school due to the lack of language skills, curriculum differences, and poverty.

“Europe is sending Kosovo’s most vulnerable people back to discrimination, exclusion, poverty, and displacement,” said Wanda Troszczynska-van Genderen, Western Balkans researcher at Human Rights Watch. “If Europe’s leaders are serious about improving the plight of Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians, they should suspend the deportations to Kosovo and ensure adequate support to those who have already been sent back.”

About 50,000 Roma, most of them Serbian-speaking, and two Albanian-speaking minorities –  Ashkali and Egyptians, who claim origins in ancient Egypt – have been deported to Kosovo since 1999. The numbers look set to rise, with as many as 12,000 people facing deportation from Germany alone. Lack of assistance from international donors and the Kosovo government to those who are deported means that the burden of helping them once they arrive in Kosovo falls on the Kosovo communities of Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians, the majority of whom live in acute poverty.

Kosovo’s Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians are historically its poorest and its most economically, politically, and socially marginalized minority. In recent years, many have been displaced because of the war, ethnic conflict, extreme poverty, and political instability. Their numbers decreased from more than 200,000 before the war in 1999 to 38,000 today. The Roma have often been the targets of violent attacks, spurned by some Kosovo Albanians – the largest ethnic group in Kosovo – as “collaborators” with the minority Serb population.

Some of them have obtained refugee status abroad, while others remain under temporary protection mechanisms. While living in Western Europe, Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians experience living conditions that are incomparably better than those in Kosovo. Their children, often born abroad, learn the language and adopt the culture and lifestyle of the host Western European countries. They often grow up not speaking their parents’ mother tongues.

Nevertheless, some who go to other countries fail to obtain asylum or their temporary protection expires, exposing them to deportation. Some of the forced returnees are unable to obtain Kosovo identity documents and have no Yugoslav or Serbian identity documents establishing prior residence in Kosovo, which makes them de facto stateless, often for prolonged periods.

In April, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized the deportations, saying they destabilize Kosovo’s security situation and exacerbate the problems faced by these minority groups in Kosovo. The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner Thomas Hammarberg and the European Parliament also have called this year for suspending the returns until conditions improve.

UN refugee agency guidelines call on countries not to deport Roma and say that Ashkali and Egyptians should only be returned after an individual risk assessment and in a phased manner, taking into account Kosovo’s limited capacity to absorb them.

“There is a growing consensus that these deportations are putting Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians at risk and making life worse for those already in Kosovo,” Troszczynska-van Genderen said. “EU governments’ responsibilities don’t end at their own borders. They and other donors need to focus on improving conditions on the ground rather than sending people back to face despair.”

Since 2009, the Kosovo government has signed readmission agreements with Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Norway, with further agreements being negotiated. Kosovo is keen to strengthen its ties with EU and other European countries. These agreements, and the absence of screening by Kosovo prior to the forced returns, open the door to ever greater numbers of deportations, create a real risk of human rights abuse, and escalate crisis conditions for deportees, their families, and the broader Kosovo community.

The report finds that the Kosovo government contributes to the problems for the returned Roma and others by failing to insist that the deporting governments help create adequate conditions in Kosovo for those forced to return. Kosovo also has not taken adequate steps to regulate the returns and to assist those who return to reintegrate into society.

A strategy created in 2007 for reintegrating forced and other returnees has not been carried out, and the Kosovo government has made little progress on its wider strategy, also designed in 2007, to improve the rights of the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities as a whole.

The report recommends:

  • An immediate moratorium on forced returns until conditions improve;
  • Urgent steps to provide assistance to those who have been returned;
  • Full implementation of the Kosovo government’s strategies for integrating forced returnees and the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities as a whole.

Deportations from Germany have proved particularly controversial, with a recent hearing in the German Bundestag leading to condemnation of the policy by opposition parties and nongovernmental organizations.

A recent policy shift on deportations to Kosovo by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where almost 40 percent of Kosovo Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians in Germany are living, suggests that reform is possible. In September, the state’s Interior Ministry issued a decree, which, while stopping short of suspending deportations entirely, recognizes the need for special protection of the Kosovo groups, requires individual screenings prior to return, and recommends not deporting school-age children.

Source: Human Rights Watch

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The right to health is a fundamental right guaranteed under international human rights instruments and the local legal framework.

The lead contamination of the displaced Roma in northern Mitrovica/Mitrovicë camps is one of the biggest medical crises in the region. Since 1999, the displaced persons living in these camps, for whom no sustainable solution in terms of return to their place of origin or alternative relocation has been found, have been exposed to lead contamination.

This report is the result of the monitoring activity of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OSCE) regarding the human rights situation of non-Albanian communities. The report gives an overview of the development and current situation of the Roma population in the camps. Based on field data and secondary research collected by the OSCE over the recent years, the findings of the report present a major human rights concern with regard to the right to health. Despite several initiatives, no major progress has been achieved to improve the health status of the displaced Roma population.

The report calls upon local and central institutions to take action for sustainable and durable solutions for the displaced Roma exposed to a hazardous health environment in the northern Mitrovica/Mitrovicë camps. In order to ensure the full enjoyment of fundamental rights of the affected persons, immediate action has to be taken to stop further aggravation of their critical health situation through relocation from the contaminated places to a safe environment. In addition, immediate and appropriate medical treatment has to be provided to individuals with extremely high levels of lead contamination. Durable solutions should be explored to ensure the relocation of the displaced persons concerned is sustainable.

February 2009

The report is available here

Referenca

Panda kotar o Aprili 2008 bersh, Romano Them kergya diklaripe (monitoring) e situaciya ano IDP kampya e Mitrovicake, kaske beshibaske manusha isine astarde but bare zeherske nivela ano po trupo kova angya ji ko bipromimo bilachipe ano sastipe e ternengo thay neve biyande chavengo.

Phiravde intezivno diskusiya, organizaciya isine akhardi, kotar o regionalno ofisi e Mashkarthemutne Sastipaske Organizaciyatar (WHO) ano Beograd te kerel participaciya ano sastipasko dikalripaski misiya ani Kosova Misiya lela than kotar o 27 ji ko 31 Januari 2009, kote ani akaya misiya chivenape da o beshipa e mashkarthemutne komuniteteske reprezentencar, Kosovake lokalno thay rashtrake institiuciyencar, thay komuniteteske liderencar.

Vizita ani koya o Romano Them kergya participaciya kotar o duyto dive, organizaciyake dendilo shaipe te kerel lafi e IDP thay manushencar kola irindepe. Ko fundo e misijyako, Romano Them isine ani 3-diveski vizita ani Makedoniya, yeke sebebya te adresirinel e situaciya e nashle manushenge kotar e Kosova. 4 Februareya 2009, Romano Them iringyape ani Kosova, kote araklape e reprezentencar kotar o Mashkarthemutno Komuniteti pali diskusiya e nashle manushenge irinbasko thay repatriyaciya.

Sar so o sanitarno thay ekologiyako aspekti e situaciyako ano kampya ka ovel subyekti ulavde reportesko, kova ka ovel gatisardo kotar o WHO, akava reporti ka koncetrishinelpe ano politikune thay sociuilune puchipa, puchipa e nashle manushengo thay zorea dende irinibaske-deportaciye.

Zeherea dende IDP-nge kampya

But isine hramomo thay isine vakerdo palo puchipe e zeherlipasko ano IDP kampya ani Mitrovica. Palo pashe 10 bersh palo Kosovako konflikti, kampya kola isine kerde de den temporalno-yeke vramake beshipa e manushenge kotar e Romani Mahala, palo lengo zorea dendo paldipe kotar e Kosovake Albancya, panda ando peste isilen 480 ulavde ano purano Ceshmin Lug kampi, thay nevo renovorimo Osterode kamp, kote o nashle mausha isine ande ano 2006 bersh.

Ano Aprili 2008, Romano Them isine daraya penjardo palo akava puqipe, artikaleya kova isine publicirimo kotar Nevo Kosovako Reporti kote phendilo kay o Ratesko Zeheripasko Niveli (Blood Lead Level, BLL) ano chavengo rat ulo duy puti pobuter. Romano Them poshmingya puqipa e Mashkarthemutne Organizaciyencar kola isine qivde ano akava problem sar soy UNMIK, UNICEF, thay WHO panda te bi tena ovel bichaldo rezultati palo neve testya kotar o korkore reprezentya e kampesko, thay kola isine kerde kotar o Instituti e Publikune Sastiapske kotar e Kosovska Mitrovica.

Romano Them upral akava akhargya ji ko Mashkarthemutne Organizaciye te mukhen sa so avela e rezultatencar kotar o testya kola kerdile ano sa akala bersha, yeke gendipaya yeke pobuvle dikhibaske-procena e situaciyako. Kotar o jek puti isine qivdo rodlaripe palo putaribe e vakeribaske proceseske-negociyacenge e manushencar kola jivdinena ano kampi, panglo lenge relokaciya ano sigurimo than.

Romano Themeski participaciya ani WHO sastipasko diklaribaski misiya  avela palo jek intenzivno diskusiya e regionalno WHO ofiseya  ano Beograd, kote e diskusiya kerdili palo sa kakrakterya kola arakenape palo akava puqipa thay arakhipe yeke soluciyake.

Misiyako Timi isine kerdo kotar o duy reprezentya e WHO regionalno ofisestar kotar o Beograd, eksperti kotar o Centro palo Nasvalipaski Kontrola (CDC) ani Atlanta thay Romano Them.

Ano jekto trin (3) dive e vizitake, pobuter beshipa isine kerdile e reprezentecar kotar o Mashkathemutno Komuniteti thay e Kosovake Institutiyencar ani Prishtina. Ano akala beshipa WHO prezentiringya rezultataya pere evalucijake testengye kola isine kedime kotar o jekto dive kerdipasta e kampyengo. WHO dengya konkluziya -posluno lafi kay o BLL isi poshukar nego so isine angleder, thay odova majbut arakhelape ko dola manusha kola ale kotar o phurane kampya ano nevo Osterode kampi, thay insistirinena kay e situaciya isila mangipe medicinsko evakuciyake. Dr. Mary Jean Brown kotar o US bazirimo CDC dengya ani godi kay detrimentalno efekti e zeheripasko majbut isi ano sastipe e chavengo thay neve biyande chavengo. Oy panda pengya kay e tragediya nane kay o qave merena, e tragediya oy dikhela  kay akava zeheripe lela lengo avutnipa thay odova najshukar mothavgya ano lengo IQ.

Panglo sa akaleya WHO rodingya kotar jek drom phiravdipe akale manushengo ko yaver than thay pandipe akale kampengo. Qivdo isine ani godi kay Osterode kampi isine kerdo sar jek temporalno soluciya kote akay asoluciya lugardili 2 bersh.

Romano Them araklape save na nashukar gendipa palo Roma, kerdindoy e Romen ano odova kay akava isi lengo “jivdipasko stili” thay siklipe-tabiyati, keripaya e Romen jevapliye pali sanitarno kriza koya arakhelape ano kampi. Organizaciya insitringya kay qivdipa e IDP-ngo ano jivdipasko darako niveli kontaminaciyake  ani koya arakhenape, perela talo pagipa e bazikuine manushikane hakayengo.

Panda isine pendilo kay e situaciya ano kampya mangelape te dikhelpe ano pobuvlo Kosovako konteksti, kote but hari isine kerdilo palo Roma. Sar yek situaciya o Romano Them lepargya, o akanaske kondiciye ano Leposaviqesko kampi, qirutno Yugoslaviyako askeriyako-voysako hangari, kova isine adaptirmo sar yek temporlano beshibasko than e Romenge kola isine paldime kotar o Juzhno Mitrovicaka thay yavera kotora e Kosovake thay sa akava lugyardilo ani vrama 10 bershengi.

Ano dikhipe pali dar mothavdo kotar diferentno reprezentya e Mashakthemutne Komunitetesko kay cidipe akale manusheno kotar akala duj kampya, shay te anel yavere IDP thay nashle manushen kotar o regioni ano akala neve kampya. Romano Them phengya kay mangelape o nashle manushengo problemi te dikhelpe talo regionalno thay Evropako okviri soske but phuvya na kerde integraciya e nashle manushenge. Motavdilo panda sar shay te ovel akceptiriomo zorea dendo iranipa pobuter hilade manushengo, keda nashti te arakhelpe soluciya 480 maushenge ano kampya.

O beshipa e lokalno institutiyencar sar soy Ministeriyumi palo sastipa thay Ministeriyumi palo Irinipa thay Komunitetya, pobuter isine fokusirimo ano praktikuine, sakodive puqipencar kote ano akava qivelape medicinako diklaripe odolenge kola irisalile ani Romani Mahala, thay transferi e dokumentego mashkar duy riga e Mirovicake, vakeripa e reprezentecar kotar e EU thay UNMIK ando peste isinele arakhipe yeke “lunge vramake” soluciyake palo sanitarno emerjenca koya ka anel cidipa e manushengo kotar o kampya ano yek sigurmo beshibasko than. Panda keda e US bazirimi BRO-NGO Mercy Corps poshmingya e implementaciya e 2.4 miliona $ projektesko finaciriomo kotar o USAID, koleya dikhelape te ikalgyon kotar kampya 50 familiye, e EU Komisiya isi panda ano procesi pere inicijalno diklaripaske-procenake. EU Komisiyake reprezentya phende kay e Komisiyake Delegaciya mangla te vazdel jek pobuvlo kuvipa ano akava thay ano akava qivelape relokaciya, shuzharipa e lokaciyako, keripa yeke materijalno -ekonomiyake shemake thay vazdipa jandipaske nivelsekse palo sa akava. On panda phende kay mangelape te kerelepe buti pashe yavere sunyektencar kola qivde ano puqipa, thay ka ovelen beshipa e USAID thay Mercy Corps.

WHO pobuvle mothavgya kay akale misiyako gendo isi panda “te arakhel koy jevapliya”. Romano Them akhargya ko keripa jeke organeske kova ka kerel koordinaciya palo aktivtetya diferetno subjektengo qivde ano akava puqipe. Pendilo panda palo riziko e pobuter phiravipasko pali soluciya e problemeski.

UNMIK-ske reprezentya ande ko lafi kay fakti e rekonstrukciya e Mahalaki ani Mitrovica isi komplicirimi sebebi e faktesko kay disave manusha kola isine jivdinena ani Mahala na isinelen khereske dokumentya, dokuemntya kola isine rodime kotar o Mitrovicake lokalunine institiuciye sar dokazi te ikeren o than ano kova angleder isine jivdinena o Roma. On panda mothavde kay o UNMIK nanele zoralipe te kerel intervenciya ano kotoro kote beshena o Srbya. Yaver problem kova isine vazdimo isi tiknaripe e fondengo kote mothavdilo kay distitbuciya e tudeske problemencar e manushengo kola jivdinena ano kampi mangelape te aqavipe-stopirinelpe.

O puqipe e nashle manushengo kotar e Evropa isine tikneste qivdo, kote u UNMIK-ske reprezentya kerde jando kay nane kondiciye e Romenge irinibaske. Panda majdur so pendilo, ini keda o Albancya kola irinenape ani Kosova bizo familiya thay akomodaciya-beshipasko thanesko isilen but pare te reintigrishinenpe.

Romano Them pengy kay dende bahtake pali koperaciya thay opstrukciya e lokaluine instituciyengo, nane fer kay o bangipe te qivelpe ko Roma. Pendilo kay o Mashkathemutno Komuniteti nashti qivgya piri zor-vola ni ko Srbya ni Ko Albancya, thay mangelape te ovel gatisarimo te del e Romenge diso ano irinipa. Pendilo panda, te isine birealikuno iriniba ani Mahala, thay relokaciya ano Srbyengo kotor, e manushenge kotar o kampya mangelape te delpe  sahipe te ovem cidime odotar ani yaver (trito) phuv.

Ano shtarto (4) dive, e misiyako timi vizitiringya e Romani Mahala ani Kosovaki Mitrovica, kote majbut manusha angleder isine ano kampya. Romano Them isinele shaipe te kerel jek tikni investigaciya-istraga e thaneski. Diklile disave finalizirime thay e kvash finalirizime khera, kote disave olendar isine tikne stanya, a disave familiyarno khera. Yek kotar akala blokya isinele Policiyaki stanica ando peste thay kafana.Upralo akava bloke, isine e qavengo kelibasko than. Podur hari, beshena quqe familirano khera, majbut olendar putarde vudarencar thay penjerencar. Ano yek kotar o khera parne boya isine hramamo “UÇK”.

Romano Them kergya lafi yeke numero manushencar kola jivdinena ani Mahala. Majbut on zhalindepe kay na lena nisavi asistenciya, veq odoya koya lena kotar e Juzhno Mitrovica. Pende panda kay but organizaciye kerde vizita e Mahalake, thay nisavo projekti na isine vazdimo. Nisavo ekonomikuno avipa thay bibukyaripe isine mothavdilo sar yek maybaro problem.

O manusha kola beshena ani mahala phende kay o quqe khera pherana e manushenge kola isine angleder jivdienna ani mahala, thay kola nashte ani Evropa. Dendo ekonomiyako dikhipe, on phende kay nane sebebpya e irinibaske. Ini olenge, “iklovipa ani trito phuv” isine najshukar soluciya.

Romano Them araklape yeke qavorenge grupa ano lengo drumo ji ki shkola ano Srbengo kotor e Mitrovicako. Mothavde kay nanelen nisave problemya ani shkola, thay panda phende kay etnikune Albancya qingarena-dena vika upari lende keda nakhavena o mosti ji ko Sever e Mitrovicako.

Ano ruqko, akale (4) divesko, misiyako timo kergya vizita e kampeske ano Leposaviq, muklo askeriyako hangar, kova isine kerdilo te beshen IDP. O hangati isi kalo-zeleno thay biamalikano. Isi rotardirimo-okruzhimo barakencar, disave olendar isilen beshipa, yaverenge akava isi than e butikeripasko. Sar soy normalno akale lokaciyenge, Romano Them arakla kay o kondiciye isine ekstremno tiknarde thay bisastipaske. Familye kotar 10 thay pobut manusha, dayek drom trin generaciye, ulavena yek soba, yeke jameya, avrutne sanitariya-WC. O zidya kerde kotar o kompresimo kasht, thay diklola kalipe kotar e vlaga. O manusha kola beshena ano akava kampi mothavde da kay isi bube sar yek pobuter sebepi yeke bisastipaske jivdipasko.

Kontra odoleske soy pendilo kotar diferetno-savena reprezentya e Mashkarthemutne Komuniteteske, o beshibasko than generealno but shuzo.  Sar soy penjardo e Muslimanege famileyenge, o manusha cidena pere kundre ano kuvipasko vudar. O zidya isine shukar dekorishime, kote dokumetirinelape evidetno mangipe yeke normalno kherske standardeske. Than avriyal e sobendar, isine bishuzho. Sa o avrutno than e hangarestar isi quqo than kova ovela mardo-meshimo e sapande yevendeske vakteya. Andral o than hangaresko isine perdo metaleya kotar o kojnardi-oshtro kolekciya, keripaya yel daravdo than qavornege khelibaske. O manusha kola beshena ano akava kampi qivde rodipe palo konteynerya kota ka qivelpe, thay te suzarelpe e jubra. Romano Them dikla sisave avrutne toaletya-WC. Qaqikane o toaletya isine ulavde mashkar sa o manusha kola jivdinena ano kampi, keripaya pahreste ikeripa e shuzhipasko.

Disave kotar o manusha kola jivdinena ano kampi isinelen piro nashukar vakeripa palo hronikune nasvaipe, kote ano akava qivena vileske problemya thay astma. O qavore isinenelen nashukar teni so shay te ovel indikaciya palo pohari havipe thay anemiya. Romano Them araklepe e familiyake jenecar kola astarde nasvalipa e kongenitalno hendikepeya, koleske azhutiripe na isine dendo.

Romano Them araklape yeke korkore djuvlija kaske pashe familyake jene beshena ano yaver kotor e Kosovako, thay kova qivgya rodipa palo keripa e kheresko, shaipeya te pasharelpe pe pashe familyake jenecar. Yek yaver phuri romni mothavgya piro hor bilaqipe soske te jivdinel 10 bersh talo akala kondiciye. Oy mothavgya kay e politika e Nacistengi isine kerdi te ovel yek pobaro shuzaripa thay egzekuciya e Romengi. Akava palo late isine but pohumano, ze so ovela avdive olencar. Yaver Egipqanengi familiya mothavgya kay nanelen than kay te nakhen, soske nane shukar ale ano nisavo kotor e Kosovako.

WHO kergya vizita solduy sastipaske centernge ano solduy riga e dizyake yeke gendoya te ovel sigurmo kay medikuini asistenciya e mansuhenge kotar o kampya na isine qinavdi ano procesi e dokumentengo phiravdipasko. O beshipa ano Severno Mitrovicako sastipasko centro isine avipirimi e delelgaciya kotar o sastipasko Ministeriyumi kotar o Beograd.

Ano posluno dive e vizitako, o timi kergya vizita e IDP kampesko ano Osterode. O beni akale vizitako isine te informirinel e manushen kola jivdinena ano kampi palo rezultatya e analizake ani reakciya e rodipaske kova qivde o manusha kola jivdinena ano kampi, thay kay na isine shukar dendi informaciya kotar o WHO. Soy panda, e informaciya na isine shukar distrubuimi-dendi ji ko nashle manusha kola beshena isine podur e misiyake manushendar thay na mangle te keren lafi e timeya. Ano isto vrama isine, pobuter reprezenetya e mashkarthemutne Organizaciyengo ano kampi.

Hari povon isine dendo diferetno vakeripa soske o IDP na mangle te keren lafi e reprezentecar kotar o WHO. So diklilo akate kay o manusha kola jivdinena ano kampi arakhenape bisugurime thay qivde ano zor kotar o sa riga. Sar sebebi, o IDP isine bangarde palo kanunesko rodlaripa kova isine qivdo kontra e Srbiyake panglo Evropake Konvenciya palo Manushikane Hakaya.[1] Ani isto vrama, isine shukar dendo kay o IDP nane shukar ale ani niyek rig e Ibareske.

Romano Them lela konfirmaciya kay sa akava puqipa-problemi phareste khandela ki politika, thay kay o manusha kola jivdinena ano kampi isine astarde akaleya, thay kay nashti te keren jek potezi a ten a oven kerde bange. Odoleske soske isi akhradilo ji ko “Mashkathemutno Komuniteti” palo anipe e soluciyako palo problemya e Romengo ano kampya.

Vizita isine fundirimi jekhethane pres konferenciya kotar o WHO thay UNDP, kote o direktori e UNDP-sko vakergya palo bangipe e Mashakrthemutne Komunitetesko, thay dengya urgetno akharibe ano qivdipe e fundesko palo pagive e Manushikane Hakayengo thay qavenge hakayengo.

Situaciya e nashle manushengi ani Makedoniya

Savatone ko 31 Januari, Romano Them ponadari lela drumo ji ki Makedoniya. Ano Shuto Orizari araklape e reprezetencar kotar o nashle manushengo komiteti, koleya isile pashe ko-operacija.. Ano jekto duy dive, Romano Them shungya o problemya kolenca arakhenape o nashle manusha panglo olenge bidendo statutesko ani Makedoniya. Isine mothavde neve identificiyake lila. Isi diferetno-savena tipya e dokumentengo/kolori-boya, kola avena kotar savo statusi isile o nashlo manush, sar soy odolenge kaske  dendilo azili panglo Zhenevake Konvenciya (28 manushenge pao UNHCR-ski statistika), odolenge kola isilen temporalno statusi panglo humanitrano sebebpeya, thay odola kaski aplikaciya isi batisardi-agorisimi kotar o Makedoniyako Uqo Kriso.

Romano Them shukar lela khan kay prezentaciya akale neve dokumentenge ande bari konfuziya mashakr o nashle manusha. O daya thay dada isine gaylirime  fakteya kay lenge qave na isine registririme ano lenge dokumentya. So pobuter prezentiripe neve ID-nge anela yavera promiba sar soy pasharipe sastipaske sistemeske, kote e nashle manushendar rodelape te pokinen sastipasko servisi, kova ji akana na kerde.

Romano Themeske dendile intezivne-pobuter informaciye palo sastipaski situaciya e nashle manushengo thay palo sastipasko sitemi. Panglo akaleya, but nashle manusha cidena kotar o hronikune nasvalipa sar soy reuma, astma, bronchitis. Romano Them majbut isine nashukar gendipa palo fakti e pobare numeresko e nashle manushengo kote akate qivenape ini tikne qave, lenape leyipa antidepresivno medicina, dayek puti ano bare doze, yeke gendoa te keren aqavipa e stresesko thay traumako.

Nashle manusha majbut motavde piro na shukar gendipa kay nane ambulatno vordon manushenge kola isilen urgetno rodipe ji ani bolnica, kola ano akala situaciye mangelape te len taxi kova lokyarela olengo tikno bujeti. Nashle manusha panda mothavde poro nashukar gendipa palo phari-kabasto procedura palo koya on mangelape jekto te keren vizita ji ko Lolo Trush, panda tena dikhen e doktore kote akava igari ji ko lugyaripe ano vikend. Pobuter nashle manusha sar so diklilo cidena kotar o bihayipe. Pobuter manusha kotar o masharutne jivdipaske bersha nashalde pere danda. E terne manushengo isine pendo kay cidena kotar e anemiya. O nashle manusha reportirime kay mashkar olende isi but hari phure manusha. Ekzamplya kotar o TBC isine reportime kotar o nashle manusha.

Skoluipe-edukaciya, isine lepardo sar yek yaver problemi. Pobuter nashle manusha aqavde piri edukaciya palo lengo mukiba e Kosovako,  kote ani Mamedoniya sine obligirime-qivde te startuynen piri edukaciya kotar o jekto klasa. Yaver problem isi masharuni skola, koya obligirinela-qivela e nashle manushen te muken o Shuto Orizari, ano kova majbut olendar beshena. O daya thay dada, phende kay isilen dar te muken pere qaven avriyal kotar e Shutka. Pobuter qaya na nakhena ani skola, koya tradicionalizmeya nashti te mothavelpe-penjaripe.

Beshibasko than isine mothavdilo sar problem. O nashle manusha isilen beshipa ano privatno khera. Soy o nashle manusha dende zor te mothaven, kay o manusha kola dena pere khera tali kriya janena palo pharipe kay o nashle mansuha isilen palo arakhipe e kherengo, on vazdena o kiriye ano yek nashukar drumo kote o nashle manusha qivde te prominen piro beshibasko than palo disave maseka. Sar yek znak so mangela te phenel akava promiba, shay te dikelpe beshibasko than e IDP-ngo ano Leposaviq kote maybut dekorime thay ano yek personalno stili ikalipe e fotografijengo thay salvete ano duvari. Kotar sa o familye kola vizitiringyam ano Shuto Orizari, yek familiya isinela kondiciye te kinel peske ularipe-nameshtay, kote yavera familiye jivdinena thay sovena ki phuv-podi.

Nashle manusha reportirime panda palo promimi registarciyaki procedura, kote akaya nevi procedura qivela mangipe e avipasko e manushesko kova dela po kher kiriya e nashle manusha palo registraciya e neve adresake.

Romano Them lela kan kaj anipe akale neve identifikaciyke lilenge (ID) angya ji ki bari konfuziya mashkar o nashle manusha.O daya thay dada na arakle pest shukar panglo fakteya kay lengere chavore na isine registririme ano lenge dokumenya (ID). Soy maybut, manusha kola isinelen plavo-maviya ID karte mangelape isine te pokinen, te mangle te ovelen sastipasko servisi, kote sa akava angya ji ko bileyipa akale ID kartengo.

Maybaro nashukar gendipa e nashle manushengo isi panglo palo lengo avutnipe. Palo lengi informaciya disave familye dakordisale te irinenpe ani Kosova,  thay o siguripaski nashukar gendipa ano jek than e shaipeya te kerelpe thay te vazdelpe yek shukar jivdipa e manushencar, isine lepardo sar jey sebebi kova na mukehela irinipa. Ano akava konteksti, isine but puqipa palo iklovipe ani USA e Kosovake Romengo kola isinelen beshipa ani Bosna thay Hercegovina. Yavera familye mangle te ovelen perspektiva pere qavenge, kote piro jivdipe dikehna kay lela fundo.

Ko 5 thay 6 Februari 2009, Romano Them araklape e reprezentencar kotar o mashkathemune organizaciye ani Makedoniya kote akate qivenape EU Komisiyake delegaciya thay WHO. Isine vazdime o problemya kolencar arakhenape o nashle manusha, thay isine rodimo te kerelpe zor ji ki Makedoniyake Instituciye gendipaya te kerelpe buti palo integraciya e nashle manushengo, ani liniya e prepoziciyengo kova dengya o Komesari palo Manushikane hakaya, rayo Thomas Hammarberg.

Ano beshipa e lokalno OSI (Open Society Institute) ofiseya, problemya ano kotor e edukaciyako isine diskutirimo. Romano Them dengya ki godi ko akava beshipa, kay o nashle manusha na isine qivde ani Nacionalno Strategiya e Romane Dekadake.

Romano Them bibahtake nashti araklape e reprezenteya kotar o UNHCR ani Skopya gendoa te diskuyel situacya e nashle manushengo te lel informaciye palo planya yeke lugyarde-shukare soluciyake.

Situaciya e Romengi ani Kosova thay Repatriciyake planya

Romano Them pangya piri vizita vakeripencar ani Prishtina. Isine arakhipe e reprezente kotar o Evropako Konzili koleske isine phiravdo Romano Themsko nashukar gendipa palo qorolo legalno statusi e Romengo ani Kosova, thay fakti kay lengoro avazo aqola majbut bishundo.

Ponadari isine diskutiriomo repatraciyako plani e rashtrencar kola ando peste isilen nashle Kosovake Romen, e reprezentencar kotar UNHCR thay UNMIK. Romano Them lela informaciya kay e Germaniya thay Svajcaria mangena te poshminen vakeripa panglo e skrinisiba bilateralno readmisiyake kontrakeya. Romano Themeske dendile informaciye kay e Daniya thay Sveria ka oven ano procesi akale vakeribasko palo akava kontrakti. Panda so motahavdilo, kay i numero zorea dendo irinibaske ano 2008 besrh isine tikno, kote qivelape 71 manush, kolendar majbut manusha kola kerde kriminali, kote disave olendar kerde tikno qoripa thay isine definismo sar kriminali.

Kotar o vakeripa e UNMIK-oya thay UNHCR-ya lelape khan kay na dendili nisavi asistenciya e manushenge kola zorea isine irinde, thay phuvya dena diferetno asisticiyake paketya odoelnge kola irinenape volonterski-korkore.

Romano Them lela kan kay o problemya startuynena kotar e recepciya e zorea dende irinipasko kote o disave EU phuvya isilen nada kay planirimo vazdipe e transit centroske e manushenge kola rodena azili ani Kosova, shay te den azhutiripe  palo problemi kova avela e recepciya zorea dende irinibasko. Romano Them lela informaciya kotar jek zhurnalisti palo yek Ashkaluini familiya koya isine zorea irindi kotar e Germaniya, duy dive sukla avriyal ko drumo, bi tena arakhel beshibasko than ano kolektivuino centro.

Kuvipe ji ko dokumentya, registraciya, edukaciya thay sastipasko azutiripe aqona sar problemya e nashle manushengo.

Romano Themeske isine reportirimi informaciya kotar o nashle manusha panglo siguripaske incidenteya. Akava qivela ando peste nashukar bukya kerde Romane juvlake ani Prishtinaki bolnica, thay qoripe ani farma e hayvanengi. Isine araklo kay ekonomikuine incidentya nane qivde ani lista e masharetnikune incidetya, thay kay o incidetya mangenape te oven reportirime ji ko OSCE te shay te kuven ano UNMIK-sko reporti.

Panglovakeriba

Kosovaki majbari institiuciya (vlada), dela zor te posminel thay shay kuvgya ano vakeripa e phuvyenge Institutiyencar kola ando peste isilen Kosovake Romen, panglo skrinisiba e readmisiyake kontrakteya. Ano momenti UNHCR-ski poziciya (kotar o 2006 bersh) palo mashakthemutno siguripa-protekciya e manushenge kotar e Kosova, panda isi ko than koya astarela ini e Kosovake Romen. Akava dokumenti ano mometi isi tali reviziya-diklaripe, thay o UNHCR aqola talo piro gendipa kay kondiciye palo jek phiravdo irinipa e Romengo na arakhenape.

Transfereya thay leyipa e bukyengo ano puqipa e irinibasko, ji ko Kosovake Instituciye, o drumo palo zorea dendo irinipa promisalo. Soy maymahatno kay o etniteti e personako kova deportirinelape na kuvela ani komunikaciya e phuvyako kola lela e deportirime, thay ni sastipasko statusi.

Ini kay phenelape kay nane kondiciye yeke pobare numersko isrinabaske e romengo,- Romani strategiya koya isine adoptirimi kotar e Kosovake Instituciye ano Decembari 2008, prioriteti dela laqaribaske e situaciyake odolenge koy panda ani Kosova, Kosovaki Uqi Instituciya na ka ovel ani poziciya te irinel repatricaiyako rodlaripe. Soj maybut kontra akaleske, Kosovaki Uqi Institiuciya diklola kay mangela te mothavel kay Kosovo lela mahalimo-zasluzhimo biumlavdipe thay kay gata te lel nashle mansuhen nalpalal kotar o sa etnicitetya.

Ano tereni e situaciya isi but diferetno kotar e publikuni retorika. Majbaro problem koleya o Roma arakhenape isi phari ekonomikuni situaciya koya uli puqipe egzistiribasko e tikne marginizirime komuniteteske. Problemi e egzistenciyako arakela poro pandipa ano strukturalno diskriminaciya thay nashukar gendiapa palo Roma.

Bibahtake Mashkarthemutno Komuniteti pelo ko ispiti pali kreaciya e kondiciyenge e Romenge palo yek sigurimo thay izatalo-dostoyanstveno egzistenciya ani Kosova. Peripa ko ispiti te rekostrushinelpe e Romani Mahala ani Mitrovica si yek maybaro ispatluko akaleske.

Kontra e Kosovake Srbyenge thay Albancenge, Roma nanelen zoralo politikako lobi. Nashukar gendipa palo lende isi zoralo, thay akava kerela prevenciya palo vazdipe e implementaciyako e politikako koya ka kreirinel yek stabilno mashakrjivdipa e Romengo ani Kosova.Kriminaliteti palo Roma thay nashukar bukya aqona telal qivde ose bireportirime.

Talo diferetno than, kondiciye ani Kosova isi pashe odolenge ani Makedoniya, kote o nashle manusha isine mukle korkori peske.

Ini kay na dikhelape yek sigutni dar palo zorea dendo iriniba  e Romengo kotar e Makedoniya, qinavdipa e humanitarno asistenciyako kotar ano moment o nashle manusha jivdinena, shay te anel ji ko volontersko iriniba ani Kosova.

Ani Kosova thay Makedoniya, yek celo-bitiviya generaciya e Romengi isine kurbani-zhrtva. But qave na janena yavere jivdipaske kotar odova savo i ano kampya. On bayrile traumencar kotar pere daya thay dada, kola siguripa ka oven phiravde ji ko lenge qave. Zeheri-Olovo isi garavdo ano kokala thay phiravde ji ko bebe  vogeya via-prekal dayake porya.

Dikhipe palo fashizmi, koya isine shundi ano IDP-nge kampya ani Kosova, isine shunavdo kotar o nashle manusha ani Makedoniya, kola na dikhena fundo pere cidipasko thaj problemengo.

Panda te lelpe bilosavo iriniba e nashle manushengo, Masharthemutno Komuniteti, kova isine jevapliya-odogovrno palo lengi bah, keripaya participaciya ano NATO askeriyaki-militarno intervenciya kontra e Yugoslaviyake, mangelape te arakle soluciya e problemengo a nashle manushengo thay IDP-ngo ano regioni. Tena kerelape akava, neve iranipa ka barvarel mizerno situaciya koya ano moment.

10 Februari 2009

Uhlar o reporti ki romani/anglikani chib (ki PDF).

 


[1] Romano Them verifikuyngya akaya informaciya e advokatencar kola isine chivde ano akava puchipa. Sar so phenelape, nane asavki kanuneski daviya kontra e Srbiyake. Leyipa o fakti kay isi nashukar dikhipa indicirinela-dela e situaciya kay o IDP-ya isi subyekti savena zoreske thay bangeripaske.

Background

Since April 2008, Romano Them has been monitoring the situation in the IDP camps in Northern Kosovo whose inhabitants have been affected by exceptionally high levels of lead-poisoning, causing irreversible damages to the health of young and new-born children.

Following intensive discussions, the organization was invited by the regional office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Belgrade to participate in a health assessment mission in Kosovo. The mission took place from 27 to 31 January 2009 including meetings with international community representatives, Kosovo government and local institutions, and community leaders.

During the visit, in which Romano Them participated from the second day on, the organization had the opportunity to speak with IDPs and returnees. By the end of the mission, Romano Them left for a three day visit to Macedonia with the aim of assessing the situation of the Roma refugees from Kosovo. On 4 February 2009, Romano Them returned to Kosovo, where it met with representatives of the international community in order to discuss refugee returns and repatriations. 

Since the sanitary and environmental aspects of the situation in the camps will be the subject of a separate report, which is prepared by the WHO, the following report will concentrate on political and social questions as well as on the issue of refugee returns and forced repatriations.

 Lead poisoning in IDP camps

Much has been written and much more has been polemicised surrounding the lead-poisoning in the IDP camps in Northern Mitrovica. Almost ten years after the war, the camps which had been set up to provide a temporary shelter to the inhabitants of the Roma Mahala following their violent expulsion by Kosovo Albanians, are still hosting some 480 people, divided between the old Cesmin Lug camp and the newly refurbished Osterode camp, where they have been relocated to in 2006.

Romano Them got alerted on this issue in April 2008, when an article published in the New Kosovo Report claimed that the Blood Lead Level (BLL) in the blood of children had doubled. Romano Them launched an enquiry with the international organizations which have been involved in the issue including UNMIK; UNICEF and WHO, before it was forwarded the results of new tests which had been carried out by the Institute for Public Health in Kosovska Mitrovica, by one of the camp leaders. 

Romano Them subsequently called on the international organizations to release the entire results of the tests which have been conducted over the last nine years in order to allow for an assessment of the situation. It also asked for the immediate opening of negotiations with the inhabitants of the camps regarding their relocation to a safe area.

Romano Them‘s participation in the health assessment mission of the WHO has been the outcome of intensive discussions with the regional office of the WHO in Belgrade surrounding the character of the crisis and its solution.

The mission team was composed of two representatives of the WHO regional office in Belgrade, an expert of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, and Romano Them.

During the first three days of the visit, various meetings were scheduled with representatives of the international community and of the Kosovo government in Pristina. During these meetings, the WHO presented the results of its evaluation of the tests conducted since the establishment of the camps. The organisation concluded that there has been a slight improvement of the BLL in particular among those IDPs who moved from the old camps to the newly Osterode, but insisted that the situation still constitutes a medical emergency. Dr. Mary Jean Brown from the US-based CDC pointed out at the detrimental effects of lead-poisoning, particularly on the health of children and new born. She said that the tragedy is not that children are dying, but that lead-poisoning is taking away their future and pointed at its lasting impact on the children’s IQ.

Consequently, WHO asked for an immediate relocation of the IDPs and a closure of the camps. It reminded that the Osterode camp had been established as another temporary solution which has come to last for two years, already.

Romano Them confronted numerous prejudices regarding Roma claiming that their “life style” or habits were responsible for the sanitary crisis in the camps. The organization insisted that the exposure of the IDPs to life threatening levels of lead contamination consisted of a violation of basic human rights. It also said that the situation in the camps needs to be seen in a broader Kosovo context where little had been done for the Roma. As a case in point, Romano Them mentioned the appalling conditions in the Leposavic camp, a former Yugoslav military hangar, which had been adapted to provide a temporary shelter for the Roma who had been chased from Southern Mitrovica and other parts of Kosovo and has also lasted for about ten years.

In view of the fears expressed by different representatives of the international community that a relocation of the inhabitants of the two camps would draw IDPs and refugees from the neighbouring countries to move into the newly evacuated camps, Romano Them said that it was necessary to tackle the refugee problem within a regional and European framework as many countries had failed to integrate the refugees. It pointed out to the incongruence of aiming to forcibly repatriate several ten thousands of people to Kosovo if a solution for 480 people could not be found.

While the talks with the local authorities such as the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for Returns and Communities rather focused on practical, every day issues including the medical follow-up of those who returned to the Roma Mahala and the transfer of documents between the North and the South, talks with the representatives of the EU and the United Nations (UNMIK), consisted in finding a “long-term” solution to the sanitary emergency implying a relocation of the inhabitants of the camps to a safe environment. Whereas the US-based NGO Mercy Corps had already started with the implementation of a 2.4 million $ project financed by USAID, consisting in the relocation of 50 families from the camps, the EU Commission is still in the process of initial assessment. Commission representatives said that the Commission delegation wanted to develop a comprehensive approach including the relocation, the cleaning of the location, income generation schemes, and awareness-raising. They also said that it was necessary to work closely with other stakeholders and that they would meet with USAID and Mercy Corps. 

WHO explained that the purpose of its mission was also to “find out who is responsible.” Romano Them called for the establishment of a task force aimed to coordinate the activities of different stake holders. It warned of the risk of further delaying a solution to the problem. 

UNMIK representatives pointed out to the fact that the reconstruction of the Mahala in Kosovska Mitrovica was complicated by the fact that some of its former inhabitants did not hold property documents which was used by the municipal authorities in Mitrovica South to withhold parts of the land formerly inhabited by the Roma. They also explained that UNMIK had no possibility to intervene in the North. Another problem which was raised was the shortage of funding which explained why the distribution of dairy problems to the inhabitants of the camps had to be terminated.  

The issue of refugee returns from Western Europe was briefly evoked, where UNMIK representatives made clear that there are no conditions for returning Roma. Accordingly, even in the case of ethnic Albanians who are returned to Kosovo without a family or accommodation, a reintegration is difficult.

Romano Them said that, given the lack of cooperation and obstruction by the local structures, it was unfair to put the blame on the Roma. It said that if the international community was not able to impose its will on neither the Kosovo Albanian, nor the Kosovo Serb authorities, it should be prepared to give something in return to the Roma. It also said, that if a return to the Mahala was unrealistic and a relocation in the Northern part impossible, the inhabitants of the camps should be given the possibility to relocate to another country.

On the fourth day, the mission team visited the Roma Mahala in Kosovska Mitrovica, where most of the inhabitants of the camps originate from. Romano Them took the opportunity for a short investigation of the site. It saw several finished and half-finished buildings, some of them small apartment blocks, others family houses. One of these blocks had a police station and a pub. Behind it, there was a playground for children. A little far away, stood several empty family houses, all of them with open doors and doors and windows smashed. One of these houses bore the inscription “UÇK” in white, painted letters. 

Romano Them talked with a few inhabitants of the Mahala. They complained that they received no assistance whatsoever except for social welfare payments from the Southern municipality. They said that many organizations visited the Mahala, but that no projects were realized. The lack of income opportunities and unemployment were quoted as major problems.

Residents said that the empty houses belonged to former inhabitants of the Mahala who escaped to Western Europe. Given the dim economic outlook, they said there were no opportunities for return. Even for them, they said “third country resettlement” was the only hope.

Romano Them met a group of children on their way to school on the Serbian side. While they claimed not to face any problems at school, they said that ethnic Albanians were shouting at them when they crossed the bridge to the North. 

In the afternoon, of the same day, the mission team visited the Leposavić camp, a defunct army hangar, which has been accommodated to host IDPs. The building is dark-green and hostile. It is surrounded by shacks, some of them inhabited, others serving as stalls for poultry. As usual in these locations, Romano Them found the conditions extremely cramped and unhealthy. Families of ten and more people, sometimes three generations, shared single rooms with only one window. The walls, made of compressed wood, bore black marks from dampness. Inhabitants presented cockroaches as yet another evidence for the unhealthy living conditions.

Contrary to what was said by different representatives of the international community, the accommodations were generally very clean. As usual for Muslim families, people did remove shoes at the doorstep. The walls were nicely decorated, documenting an evident will for ordinary housing standards. The outside, however, was clearly untidy. The whole surrounding of the hangar is bare soil which became muddy from the wet winter weather. The whole area is invaded by old metal stemming from scrap collections, constituting a dangerous playground for children. Residents asked for containers to be placed to clean up the waste. Romano Them saw some outside latrines. Obviously, sanitary equipment is shared by all the inhabitants of the camps, making it difficult to maintain tidiness.

Several inhabitants claimed to suffer from chronic diseases including heart problems and asthma. Children were of pale complexion as a possible indication of malnutrition and anaemia. Romano Them met with a family whose members are affected with a congenital handicap, for which no help was available.

Romano Them met a single old person who had relatives in another part of Kosovo and asked for a house to be built so that she could join them. Another old woman expressed her deep despair for having to live ten years under such circumstances. She claimed that the policy of the Nazis consisting in mass executions of Roma was more human. Another Egyptian family claimed that it had no place to go, since it was neither welcome in the North nor the South of Kosovo. 
 

WHO visited the health centres in both sides of the towns in order to make sure that medical assistance to the residents of the camps was not disrupted by the failing transfer of documentation. The meeting at the health centre in Mitrovica North was joined by a delegation from the Health Ministry in Belgrade. 

On the last day of the visit, the team visited the IDP camp in Osterode. The purpose of the visit was to inform the inhabitants about the results of the analyses in reaction to complaints that the inhabitants had not been properly informed by the WHO. However, the information had not been properly disseminated to the refugees who stayed away and refused to speak to the team. At the same time, there were several representatives of international organizations present in the camps.

Later on, different explanations were provided for the IDPs refusal to speak to the representatives of WHO. What was however very obvious was that the inhabitants of the camps feel insecure and are being pressurised from all sides. Reportedly, the IDPs have been blamed for a law suit which has allegedly been filed against Serbia on the grounds of the European Convention for Human Rights.[1] At the same time, it has been clear that the IDPs are welcome on neither side of the Ibar River.

Romano Them got confirmation that the whole issue smells heavily of politics, and that the inhabitants of the camps are being trapped that they cannot move to either side without being blamed. This is why it called on the particular responsibility of the “international community” for resolving the problems of the Roma in the camps.

The visit was concluded by a joint press conference of the WHO and the UNDP, during which the director of UNDP spoke of failure of the international community and issued an urgent call to put an end to the violation of Human Rights and the rights of children.

 The situation of the refugees in Macedonia

On Saturday, 31st, January, Romano Them travelled further to Macedonia. In Shuto Orizari, the organisation met with representatives of the refugee committee with whom it has been cooperating, in past. During the first two days, Romano Them heard the complaints of the refugees relating to their unresolved status in Macedonia. It was shown the new identity papers. There are different types of documents/colours depending on status of the refugees, red for those who have been granted asylum on the basis of the 1951 Geneva Convention, (some 28 people according to the UNHCR statistics), brown for those with a temporary status on humanitarian grounds, and blue for those who are living in a mixed marriage and qualify for Macedonian citizenship. Those refugees whose asylum application has been rejected by the Macedonian Supreme Court continue to hold special identification papers for refugees called “žutni kartoni”, yellow cards.

Romano Them understood that the introduction of these new ID documents has caused great confusion among the refugees. Parents were worried about the fact that their children have not been registered in there documents. Furthermore, it seems that the holders of blue ID cards now have to pay in order to receive particular health services which has lead to the rejection of these cards.

Romano Them was given intensive information on the health situation of the refugees and access to health care. Accordingly, many refugees suffer from chronic diseases such as rheumatism, asthma or bronchitis. Romano Them was particularly concerned to learn that a huge number of refugees including small children seem to be administrated anti-depressants, sometimes in high doses, in order to cope with stress and trauma.

The refugees complained that there is no ambulance available to take people to hospital. Hence, the refugees have to take a taxi which is overstretching their small budget. They also complained about the cumbersome procedure according to which they have allegedly first to visit the local Red Cross, before seeing a doctor which leads to deadlocks on weekends and in the evening. Many of the refugees seem to suffer from the impact of malnutrition. Several middle-aged persons had many of their teeth lost. Young children were said to suffer from anaemia. The refugees also reported that there are hardly any old people in their community. Cases of TBC were also reported.

Schooling was mentioned as yet another problem. Many children seem to have abandoned their education after their flight from Kosovo, since they were often obliged to start from the first grade. Another problem is secondary school, which obliges the refugees to leave Shuto Orizari, where most of them are accommodated. Parents said that they are afraid to let their children out. Many of the girls seem not to receive any school education which tradition alone does not explain.

Housing was also mentioned as a problem. Refugees in Shuto Orizari are accommodated in private houses. They allege that the owners exploit their difficulties in finding housing and raise the rent in a discretionary way forcing people to change residence every few months.

As an obvious sign of what it means to change housing all the time, it could be seen the accommodations of the IDPs in Leposavic were mostly decorated in a personalised style. Of the families visited in Shuto Orizari, one family, which did not have to move, had been able to buy its own furniture whereas other families lived in slept on the floor.

They also reported changes in the registration procedure, imposing people to be accompanied by the owner of the houses when they register at a new address.

Romano Them also heard that newly born children had no identification documents at all. Apparently, they are not issued ID cards or enlisted in the ID cards of their parents. Moreover, it seems that the refugees were advised by the Macedonian authorities not to get in contact with the Serbian embassy in Macedonia in order not to jeopardise their status. As a consequence, the only document these children have is their birth certificate.

The main concern of the refugees regards their future. According to them, a few families had agreed to return to Kosovo, but security concerns together with concerns about possibilities to ensure their livelihood, in a hostile surrounding, were mentioned as the main obstacles to returns. Some families continued to cherish hopes for a third country resettlement. In this context, there was a lot of questioning surrounding the resettlement of Kosovo Roma from Bosnia-Herzegovina to the United States. Other families simply wanted to have a perspective for their children as they consider that life for themselves is over.

On 5 and 6 February 2009, Romano Them met with representatives of international organisations in Macedonia including the EU Commission delegation and the WHO. It highlighted the problems faced by the refugees and asked to pressure the Macedonian authorities in order to work towards the integration of the refugees, in line with the recommendations issued by the Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg.

In a meeting with the local Open Society Institute, the problems in the field of education were discussed. Romano Them pointed to the fact that the refugees had not been included in the National Strategy for the Roma Decade.

Romano Them has unfortunately not been unable to meet with representatives of the UNHCR in Skopje in order to discuss the situation of the refugees and plans for a sustainable solution to their problems.

 The situation of Roma in Kosovo and Repatriation plans

Romano Them concluded its visit with talks in Pristina. It met with representatives of the Council of Europe to whom it conveyed its concerns regarding the poor legal status of Roma in Kosovo and the fact that their voices remained largely unheard.

It further discussed repatriation plans of the governments of the host countries with representatives of the UNHCR and UNMIK. Romano Them received information that Germany and Switzerland were about to start or have started negotiations regarding the signature of bilateral readmission agreements. Romano Them also heard that Denmark and Sweden were in the process of negotiating such agreements. The organisation was further informed about changes in the readmission procedure after the complete take-over of the responsibilities in the field of return and readmission by the Kosovo government. However, it was also told that the number of forced returns in 2008 had been low, involving 71 people, mostly so-called criminal offenders with some of these people however only convicted for minor theft.

Romano Them was told that contrary to voluntary returnees, forced returnees were not offered any kind of assistance. Problems start with the reception of the returnees where some EU countries are nurturing hopes that the planned construction of a transit centre for asylum seekers could help to alleviate the problems of the reception of forced returnees. Romano Them received information from a journalist, that an Ashkali family which was forcibly deported from Germany had to sleep two nights in the streets, before finding an accommodation in a collective centre.

Access to documents, registration, education and health care remain a problem.

Romano Them reported information regarding security incidents which it received during its visit. These included the rape of a Romani woman at a hospital in Pristina and the theft of farm animals. It learned that incidents with an economic background are not considered as interethnic crimes and that incidents need to be reported to the police or the OSCE to be entered into the UNMIK reports.

 Conclusion

The Kosovo government is about to embark or has already entered negotiations with the governments of host countries regarding the signature of readmission agreements. For the moment, the UNHCR position on the international protection needs for individuals from Kosovo of 2006 is still valid. According to this document, Roma are still considered as in need of individual protection and should not be deported to Kosovo. The document is currently under revision, but the UNHCR remains of the opinion that the conditions for a sustainable return of Roma are not met.

With the transfer and take-over of responsibilities in the field of return to the Kosovo governments the patterns for forced repatriations have however changed. Most importantly, the ethnicity of a person to be deported is no longer communicated to the competent authorities dealing with readmission, nor is their health status.

Even if admitting that there are no conditions for large-scale returns of Roma, – the Roma strategy which has been adopted by the government in December, gives priority to improving the situation of those still in the country – , the Kosovo government will not be in a position to reject repatriation requests. Quite on contrary, it seems quite keen to proof that Kosovo has deserved independence and is ready to receive returnees from all ethnicities.

On the grounds the situation is very different from the public rhetoric. The most obvious problem faced by Roma is the difficult economic situation which becomes a question of survival for a small and marginalized community. The economic hardship experienced by the Roma largely results from structural discrimination and prejudices.

Unfortunately, the international community has failed to create the conditions for Roma to lead a safe and dignified existence in Kosovo. Their interest have been sacrificed towards the interests of Kosovo’s two largest communities, the Kosovo Albanians and the Kosovo Serbs. The failure to reconstruct the Roma Mahala in Mitrovica is the most stringent evidence for the failure of the international community to safeguard the interests of the Roma.

Contrary to Kosovo Serbs and Albanians, the Roma do not have a strong political lobby. Prejudice against them is ripe and prevents the development and implementation of a policy that would create a stable livelihood for Roma in Kosovo. Crimes and harassment against them remain under- or unreported.

Even if under different premises, the condition is quite similar in neighbouring Macedonia where refugees have been left on their own devices for years. Instead of being able to start a new life, they have been kept dependent of humanitarian assistance.

While there seem not to be any immediate threats of forced repatriations of Roma from Macedonia, the phasing out of this assistance which is the main and often the sole basis of survival, may prompt so-called voluntary returns to Kosovo.

In Kosovo and in Macedonia, a whole generation of Roma has been sacrificed. Many children know no other life than life in camps and temporary shelters. They have grown up with the traumas of their parents and are likely to convey these traumas to their children. Lead is conserved in the bones and transferred to the baby in the womb via the umbilical cord.

The reminiscences of Fascism were heard in Kosovo. They were echoed by the refugees in Macedonia who see no end to their suffering.

Before considering any refugee returns, the international community and, in particular, those countries, that participated in the NATO military intervention against Yugoslavia, should seek to find a solution to the problems of the refugees and IDPs in the region. Unless this is done, new returns will only increase misery.

10 February 2009

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[1] Romano Them verified these information with lawyers who have been involved in this issue. Accordingly, there is no such law suit against Serbia. The fact that there is such a rumour indicates, however, that the IDPs are subject to any kinds of pressure and accusations.

Strasbourg, 20 January 2009 – The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has published today the report on its first visit to Kosovo in March 2007, together with the response of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK). Both documents have been made public at the request of UNMIK.

In the course of the visit, the CPT received a number of allegations of physical ill-treatment of persons held by officers of the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) in police stations throughout Kosovo. The CPT has recommended that a formal statement be delivered from the highest level to all KPS officers, reminding them that they should be respectful of the rights of detained persons and that the ill-treatment of such persons will be the subject of severe sanctions. The Committee has also made specific recommendations concerning the implementation in practice of the fundamental safeguards against ill-treatment (in particular, as regards the right of detained persons to have access to a lawyer).

Material conditions of detention were poor in almost all the police stations visited. Many cells were too small for the number of persons being held there, lacked natural light and/or artificial lighting, and were in a poor state of cleanliness.

The CPT visited Dubrava Prison, Lipjan/Lipljan Correctional Centre (the only penitentiary establishment in Kosovo for women and juveniles) and four pre-trial detention centres throughout Kosovo. At Dubrava Prison, the Committee received a number of allegations of physical ill-treatment and/or excessive use of force by members of the establishment’s Intervention Unit (so-called “Delta Bravo”). Many prisoners also complained about brutal and provocative behaviour by members of that unit in the context of cell searches. In addition, some allegations of physical ill-treatment by custodial staff were received at Dubrava Prison and Lipjan/Lipljan Correctional Centre; no such allegations were heard in any of the detention centres visited.

Material conditions of detention were generally satisfactory at Lipjan/Lipljan Correctional Centre and the detention centres in Gjilan/Gnjilane and Mitrovica/Mitrovicë; however, they were very poor in some parts of Dubrava Prison and in the entire Pejë/Peć Detention Centre (advanced level of dilapidation, poor standards of hygiene, overcrowding, etc.).

The CPT has welcomed the initial efforts made by the prison administration to develop a programme of activities for prisoners (in particular, as regards female and juvenile prisoners). The Committee gained a generally favourable impression of the detention regime in the high-security block of Dubrava Prison. However, it is a matter of concern that many sentenced prisoners and almost all remand prisoners in the penitentiary establishments visited did not benefit from any regular out-of-cell activities other than outdoor exercise. Further, the Committee has expressed its concern about the frequent allegations of favouritism and corruption at Dubrava Prison.

As regards psychiatric/social welfare establishments, no allegations of ill-treatment by staff were received from patients at the Psychiatric Clinic in Prishtinë/Priština and the Regional Hospital in Mitrovica/Mitrovicë, but some allegations of physical ill-treatment (such as slaps) by orderlies were received at the Shtime/Štimlje “Special Institute”. In addition, a number of patients/residents, mostly women, met at Shtime/Štimlje claimed that they had been subjected to violence and/or intimidation by other patients/residents. No such allegations were received in the other psychiatric establishments visited.

Living conditions of patients were very good in the emergency/intensive care unit at the Psychiatric Clinic in Prishtinë/Priština and generally satisfactory at the Regional Hospital in Mitrovica/Mitrovicë. However, the CPT has expressed its serious concern about the fact that patients in the forensic psychiatric unit in Prishtinë/Priština were being kept, often for months on end, in a state of total idleness: they did not have any possibility to go into the open air, nor were they provided with reading material or a radio or TV, and they had no possibility to make telephone calls.

At the Shtime/Štimlje “Special Institute”, the CPT gained a favourable impression of the living conditions in the new institution for persons with mental disabilities, both in terms of material conditions and socio-rehabilitative and recreational activities offered to residents. In contrast, conditions for patients in the Integration Centre for Mental Health were very poor. Many rooms were dilapidated and in a poor state of hygiene. In addition, the Centre lacked the necessary funds to ensure even the basic needs of patients (such as adequate clothing and shoes).

In its substantial response addressing all the issues raised by the CPT, UNMIK provides detailed information on the concrete measures taken by the relevant authorities to improve the situation in the light of the recommendations made by the Committee. For instance, to combat ill-treatment by the police, a directive has been issued to police officers and draft legislation has been prepared to aggravate sanctions against police officers who use force unnecessarily and/or in a disproportionate manner. In addition, steps have been taken to intensify the training of police officers and to strengthen the legal safeguards for persons detained by the police.

Source: Council of Europe

“31. The Ministry of Communities and Returns has agreed to ensure an appropriate level of funding for the management of Camp Osterode in the fiscal year 2009. The Ministry is also considering the prospect of contracting a local implementing partner to assume direct management functions of Camp Osterode from Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) from January 2009. NCA also offered to train the future local implementing part ner to facilitate the smooth handover of operations in January 2009.

32. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has allocated $2.4 million to support the sustainable resettlement and reintegration of 50 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families currently displaced and living in Camp Çesmun Llug/Cesmin Lug and Camp Osterode in northern Mitrovicë/Mitrovica. The Government of Norway has also allocated funds for the construction of 24 housing units in the Roma Mahalla.

33. The results of the blood tests conducted by the Institute of Public Health of Serbia in April 2008 on children currently living in the Çesmun Llug/Cesmin Lug and Osterode camps in northern Kosovo allegedly showed that, for all but two of the 104 children tested, lead levels in their blood exceeded the maximum acceptable levels. As the World Health Organization (WHO) was not involved in the testing, it has urged all stakeholders involved in testing lead levels in blood and in the environment to coordinate their activities with WHO.”

Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, 24 November 008

“Inhabitants of some camps for Roma IDPs suffer significant lead contamination, in particular in northern Kosovo where the relevant authorities failed to provide treatment and relocate the endangered population.”

European Commission: Kosovo 2008 Progress Report, 5 November 2008

“29. The Committee notes with concern that a number of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families, who were relocated to the IDP camp at Cesmin Lug/Çesmin Llug after the demolition in 1999 of the “Roma Mahalla” in Mitrovicë/Mitrovica, prefer to remain in Cesmin Lug/Çesmin Llug, despite high levels of lead contamination, due to their lack of trust in a durable housing solution and because they fear that the IDP camp at Osterode, to which most Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families have been relocated from lead contaminated IDP camps, is itself located near a lead contaminated site. It is also concerned that, according to some sources, children at the Osterode camp show high blood-lead levels and that the medical treatment for lead poisoning was discontinued in 2007. (article 11)

The Committee recommends that UNMIK, in cooperation with the Kosovo authorities, ensure that Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families who prefer to stay at the IDP camp at Cesmin Lug/Çesmin Llug are adequately informed about the health risks involved and offered adequate alternative housing solutions which are culturally acceptable; (b) that the blood-lead levels of persons, especially children, living in the IDP camps at Cesmin Lug/Çesmin Llug, Osterode and Leposavić/Leposaviq are continuously monitored and that follow-up medical treatment is available in all three camps; (c) that phase 2 of the reconstruction of the “Roma Mahalla” is implemented and completed as soon as possible; and (d) that all Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families who were relocated to IDP camps are progressively reintegrated into the “Roma Mahalla” and provided with adequate housing with legal security of tenure.”

CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLES 16 AND 17 OF THE COVENANT, Document submitted by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 19 November 2008

“557. The identification of significant levels of lead contamination in the blood of residents at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Northern Mitrovicë/Mitrovica region in late 2005 led to an extensive analysis to determine the source of the lead pollution and provide short-term measures and a clear strategy on how to deal with the case. The analysis showed that the pollution was caused by illegal smelting of car batteries in the houses of some families, and not the entire population of 550 persons was equally affected.

558. To immediately ameliorate the health damage resulting from the lead pollution, the WHO and UNICEF responded with a list of nutrients to be provided to all members of those communities. This included higher intake of calcium foodstuffs, fruits and vegetables. Delivery of the food basket continues with a changing seasonal menu, and in response to changed needs.

Additionally, all members of the community were advised to improve personal hygiene for which a supply programme was established. The WHO also arranged for affected children to receive chelation therapy. The therapy itself lasts for 28 days but post treatment follow up may take six months.

559. UNMIK took over the former KFOR camp Osterode and began an extensive reconstruction programme to transform the facility into the temporary relocation site for the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) community living in the three lead-polluted camps. The facilities were fully refurbished with the provision of additional sanitation units of acceptable standards. As the facility itself was inadequate to accommodate the entire community, prefabricated buildings were ordered and delivered.

560. In this context, measures to protect the health of affected RAE families included progress in the reconstruction process of the neighbourhood to which these IDPs would return. The Municipality issued construction permits for two apartment blocks that will host some of the inhabitants. Some of the potential beneficiaries, 61 RAE IDP families, moved out of the leadcontaminated camps in Northern Mitrovicë/Mitrovica and Zvečan/Zveçan into safer facilities in the northern part of Mitrovicë/Mitrovica, while 272 individuals remained by their own choice in the contaminated camps, despite the offer of safer alternatives.

562. It appears from informal reports that many RAE families are not satisfied with being asked to reside in apartments, rather than houses, and consequently resist taking up residence in the new buildings.”

United Nations Economic and Social Council: IMPLEMENTATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS, Document submitted by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo under articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant, 15 January 2008

This 2008 Status Report on fulfilling the commitments made in the Action Plan is published by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

From the report:

“A number of challenges and concerns regarding RAE in Kosovo persist, including security and freedom of movement for minorities, discrimination in obtaining identification documents, and denial of access to remedies for violent crimes committed against RAE communities.

Furthermore, RAE face racially motivated violence and threats of further violence and systemic and pervasive racial discrimination. RAE communities in Kosovo live in substandard conditions. IDPs and refugees, especially the elderly, women, and children, are particularly vulnerable in Serbia, as well as in other countries such as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, and they continue to experience severe problems linked to their unclear civil status, as well as the lack of adequate housing, education, and employment. International organizations play an important role in providing support and protection, as well as in raising awareness of the issues faced by these communities.

Kosovo’s political, social, and economic stability has not yet improved, and limited results can be expected in the short and medium term. The economy is growing at a rate of 2 per cent per year, while its population is growing by an estimated 3.5 per cent annually. There has also been a decrease in available employment opportunities, with far more job-seekers entering the employment market every year compared to the number of jobs created. Political instability is also preventing private investment from taking place in the foreseeable future.

About 15 per cent of the population of Kosovo is estimated to be extremely poor, defined as individuals who have difficulty meeting their basic nutritional needs (with daily incomes under $1). About 45 per cent report a consumption level below the poverty line (under $2 a day). These poverty rates are very high compared to neighbouring countries, and, unlike many countries in the region, they have not improved over time (in fact, poverty rates have gotten worse since the last measurement, which indicates that about 12 per cent of the population are extremely poor). Given these conditions, the prospect for improving the situation of RAE communities is precarious.

The Roma communities living in enclaves rely principally on parallel administrative structures for public services in the areas of health, education, and social assistance. These structures are funded by the Serbian government in municipalities where there is a significant Serb presence. School attendance by Roma children continues to be poor A majority of the RAE have been residing in informal settlements. Problems relating to the restoration of property rights are particularly acute for the RAE community, as many of the deeds to the properties where they lived prior to the conflict were not formalized.

In Kosovo, the RAE IDP community, as with other ethnic minorities, continues to feel insecure. Confidence in law-enforcement authorities, both international and local, remains low. As described in the last UNHCR position paper on the protection needs of people from Kosovo, the RAE, and especially those of Roma ethnic origin, continue to fear discrimination and revenge, as well as limitations on freedom of movement, including access to economic and social services.

The pace of returning property to RAE and rebuilding their mahalas has been slow and is being carried out on a small scale. The voluntary return of Roma to Kosovo is closely related to the resolution of property disputes.  The relocation of several hundred RAE IDPs to the Osterode camp (from lead-contaminated camps in northern Mitrovica) remains unresolved after more that seven years of living in camp conditions.

The difficult issues of the return of RAE refugees or forced returnees from Western countries remain unresolved. Many RAE from Kosovo, who have temporary protection status in other states, live in anxiety because of their uncertain future. Overall, the return process stagnated in 2007, with roughly the same number of returnees as in 2006.

Spontaneous returns decreased slightly, while organized returns saw a rise. The return trend in the first quarter of 2008 was below expectations (28 Roma and 55 Ashkali and Egyptians).”

24 September 2008

The full report is available here.

(Summer 2007 – Summer 2008)

The Mission identified 12 areas deriving from its mandate (which also constitute the 12 chapters of the report): Rule of Law, Police, Communities, Protection of Property Rights, Assembly of Kosovo, Local Government and Decentralization, Elections, Public Administration, Human Rights Institutions and Instruments, Anti-Corruption, Anti-Trafficking in Human Beings; and Media. 

In each of these chapters the following points are addressed: the development of the normative framework during the reporting period, the development on the ground and the implementation of the normative framework, main shortcomings and finally the Mission’s activities regarding these areas over the reporting period and in the future.

As an overall assessment, the main achievements and shortcomings can be summed up as follows.

Achievements:

Despite fundamental political changes in Kosovo during the first half of 2008, the political and security situation remained remarkably stable. During the reporting period, two important events involving politically motivated violence occurred on 19 February and 17 March in northern Kosovo: one related to the burning of customs posts, and the other to regaining control of the Mitrovicë/Mitrovica courthouse. However, these incidents did not escalate. At the same time, the fear that insecurity among the Kosovo Serb community would lead to a new wave of departures did not materialize.

There has been further progress in the development of democratic institutions and administrative structures, at the central level and particularly at the municipal level. Elections were successfully held for new political representatives at three different levels (the Assembly, municipal assemblies and municipal mayors); these elections met international standards. As for general policing, the Kosovo Police Service enjoys a high degree of trust among the Kosovo Albanian community.

The legislative framework has progressed and generally meets high international standards with regard to human rights and the protection of the rights of the different communities. However, the constitution and most other legislation have been drafted with significant international assistance.

Shortcomings

The continued stalemate between Prishtinë/Priština and Belgrade on the status issue makes progress in the integration of the Kosovo Serb community into Kosovo’s public life and society difficult. In northern Kosovo, with its majority Kosovo Serb population, separation has actually advanced through the extension of parallel administrative institutions into the political field. In the rest of Kosovo, the outcome of efforts to integrate the Kosovo Serb community remains unclear.

Here, despite some efforts by the Kosovo government to encourage the Kosovo Serbs to participate in the administrative and political structures, there is a widespread perception among the Kosovo Serb community of insecurity and mistrust which prevents interaction outside enclaves. A large number of unresolved property claims affect above all the Kosovo Serbs. The two separated educational systems – the Kosovo schools and the parallel Kosovo Serb schools – do not offer instruction in the other community’s language and thus drive the two communities further apart.

The judiciary remains the weakest of the public institutions. There are widespread violations of fair trial standards. There is no indication that a further increase in the high number of backlogged court cases can be prevented, let alone that the number can be reduced. There has been very limited progress in the fight against corruption, organized crime and human trafficking.

While the laws meet international standards, their implementation is often hampered by, the lack of financial and human resources, administrative shortcomings and adequate political initiative or will.

There are indications of increasing political interference in key institutions, which under international human rights standards should remain independent: the civil service, the judiciary, the police and the media.

The full report is available here (in English/Serbian/Albanian).

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Seventh session
Agenda item 3
4 March 2008

Addendum

SUMMARY OF COMMUNICATIONS SENT AND REPLIES RECEIVED FROM GOVERNMENTS AND OTHER ACTORS

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.

Observations

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.

Unhealthy surroundings for the Roma refugees, who have been contaminated by lead

In February 2006, the move began of the Roma and Ashkali from the lead-contaminated refugee camps Žitkovac/Zhitkoc and Kablare/Kablar in North-Mitrovica/North-Mitrovice into the former French military base “Osterode”, which is only 50 metres from the lead works of the “Trepca Mines Company”, which is contaminated by heavy metal.

Since 1999, the “inmates” of the above mentioned refugee camps and of the Cesmin Lug/Cesminluke refugee camp, 560 members of the Roma and Ashkali, have had to vegetate after being driven out of their houses in the south of Mitrovica/ Mitrovice by extremist Albanians in the same year during the Kosovo war. Around the camps there is an extremely high concentration of lead and other heavy metals in the ground and in the air, so that the residents of the camps have been exposed for years to
a very heavy contamination and suffer from lead poisoning.

In spite of the express demands of the GfbV that the residents of the camps should be moved to an uncontaminated area and that medical treatment should be commenced promptly, by the beginning of September 457 persons, among them 183 children under the age of 15 have been moved to this former military camp of the French KFOR soldiers. The temporary administration of the United Nations in Kosovo (UNMIK), which is responsible for the refugee camps, justified this measure, which is contested from a medical point of view, by stating that by removing the top level of soil and by covering the lower levels with concrete and by better conditions like improved medical treatment, regular provision of food and adequate sanitary facilities the danger to health of the refugees in the Osterode refugee camp would be reduced. So the continuing contamination of the air through heavy metals in camp “Osterode” and the resulting consequences for the health of the contaminated persons
are being accepted.

The refugees in “Osterode” have been served since February 2006 by a doctor, a nurse and a small “clinic”. The head of the UNMIK, Joachim Rücker, stated that the medical treatment of the lead poisoning began on 2nd September 2006. For this reason the medical team was increased in size, by a further American doctor, two local paediatricians and an assistant doctor, five nurses and five Roma helpers. It is the children and the pregnant women to whom the doctors devote the most attention.

The Society for Threatened Peoples sent one of the leading European specialists for heavy metal poisoning, the environmental doctor, Klaus-Dieter Runow, on a fact finding mission to Kosovo. Dr Runow took blood samples and 66 hair samples. The lead values of the refugees exceeded the reference value by at least 20, in the case of several children the values were 1,200 times the permissible level. Many tests displayed also very high cadmium and arsenic values.

“Therapy and detoxification are not possible on the spot. The refugees can only be helped when the exposure has come to an end. Of course the living conditions are better on the former military base, but what use it that to the refugees if they must continue suffering from heavy metal poisoning?” wrote the environmental doctor, Klaus-Dieter Runow in a letter to the GfbV in connection with the move to camp “Osterode”.

The head of the GfbV team, Paul Polansky, emphasised in a report to the Society for Threatened Peoples of 05.09.2006: “All the doctors who have visited “Osterode” say that this is not a safe place to treat people – particularly children with high lead values.” The recent report of the WHO shows a lead value of over 45 mg/dl in the case of 39 children. To date however only 16 children have been treated.

Earlier studies of the WHO from the years 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2006 show in the case of some children lead values of over 70 mg/dl. The New York State Health Department states that children manifesting a lead concentration of this level “must be admitted to hospital immediately” and are not allowed to return to the contaminated area. The children from “Osterode” with high lead values should really be taken to hospital in Belgrade for treatment. Since however neither the WHO nor the UNMIK see themselves responsible for taking the patients to Belgrade it simply remains to be seen how effective the treatment really is.

October 2006

The full text of the report is available here.

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