Update: Roma families are being relocated from lead-contaminated camps

Our letters to United Nations officials in Kosovo are having the desired effect! After six years of inaction, the U.N. mission in Kosovo just now opened a camp where 125 Roma families can live while awaiting construction of permanent housing. The Roma families are being relocated from three U.N.- administered camps for displaced persons, where they have been exposed to constant and severe lead contamination since 1999.

 

Within a month of receiving Global Response’s first letters urging him to act on behalf of the Roma families – especially the children, who are most seriously affected by lead poisoning -- the UN mission chief in Kosovo Soren Jessen-Petersen made a personal visit to the contaminated camps. On January 9, the UN opened a nearby but safer camp to the Roma families. Ten families have already moved into the new quarters.

Roma leaders in the contaminated camps criticize the UN response, worrying that once the Roma are relocated in the temporary camp the pressure will be off, and their permanent settlement may be postponed indefinitely. Some Roma have threatened to refuse relocation at the temporary camp. There may be a need for continued international pressure on UN officials until all the Roma from the contaminated camps are resettled in safe and permanent dwellings.

For now, we are pleased to share with you these words of thanks from Dianne Post at the European Roma Rights Centre:

Obviously your [Global Response] campaign had a BIG contribution to these results. So congratulations and thank you very much. To get the Special Representative for the Secretary General [Soren Jessen-Petersen] himself out to the camps to meet them is pretty BIG. The fight is not over. But it's definitely advanced to the next round!