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“Kosovo’s Chernobils – the silent assassins” (Koha)

By   /  11/09/2019  /  Comments Off on “Kosovo’s Chernobils – the silent assassins” (Koha)

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The paper carries in one of its front-page stories the third part of a series of article titled “Kosovo’s Chernobils – the silent assassins”, highlighting that there are 110 polluted zones in Kosovo as a result of different economic activities. “Mitrovica has the biggest and most dangerous hot-spots in the Balkans created by the remnants of the Trepca mining complex, while Kosovo’s power plants hold one of the worst records of air pollution in Europe. Among the biggest polluters are also the factories Ferronikeli and Sharrcem,” the paper notes. It also adds that the degraded industry contaminates the air, water and land with heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals. An auditor has found that industrial operators, but also state institutions, do not report on the exact level of pollution and they even hide the real consequences. Credible institutions meanwhile show that air pollution alone leads to over 800 early deaths every year and has a health cost of over €170 million. The article also talks about lead poisoning poisoning in the Roma camps in Mitrovica. Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians were placed in three camps in the northern part of Mitrovica built by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo. The paper quotes a member of the Roma community as saying that when they were first placed in the Zhitkoc camp in Zvecan they were told that they would stay there only for 40 days. “But they kept us there for six years,” he said, adding that they were living very close to an industrial waste site. “When wind blew it threw the dust over us. We thought it was only dust until a girl died and they told us that they found lead in her blood. Everyone was alarmed and they run medical tests for the children. They all had lead in their blood,” the Roma added. The paper recalls that in 2004, the World Health Organization had concluded that the majority of children living in Zvecan and Mitrovica were not safe because of lead contamination. The WHO, the Red Cross and Amnesty International called on UNMIK to evacuate the children and pregnant women from the camps, but the evacuation was not done immediately. The paper notes that in 2016, a human rights advisory panel published an opinion advising the United Nations to publicly apologise and provide compensation to the victims of the camps. The UN did not do this, but a year later, the UN Secretary General set up a trust fund for community aid projects to help the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities. Individual compensations were not mentioned. UNMIK now does not give hope that victims of the contamination will be compensated. UNMIK spokeswoman Sanam Dolatshahi said “efforts have continued to mobilize voluntary resources to the trust fund to support the Ashkali, Egyptian and Roma communities, established in 2017 by the United Nations Secretary-General in follow up to the recommendations of the UNMIK Human Rights Advisory Panel. An initial contribution of USD 10,000 was received into the trust fund in May 2019. The United Nations remains engaged in efforts to realize more contributions to the Fund and looks forward to the full support of Member States in that regard.”

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