In 2005, I had detailed the horrific story so far in a post on the Roma Mahalla/Fabricka Mahalla - the refugees' home neighbourhood, which Kosovo Albanian nationalist extremists burned in 1999 - on the Mitrovicë/Mitrovica: cultural heritage and community photo blog.
In case saying the UN poisoned, crippled and killed the Kosovo Roma refugees of Roma Mahalla sounds unfair, what follows is a repost from the 2005 Mitrovicë blog post, the development of the situation:
- for a long time, lead pollution had been an open secret;
- in 1997, there was a public report of lead poisoning;
- (therefore) in 1999, when the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) chose the site, it knew it was contaminated;
- (in fact) also in 1999, the United Nations itself, in the form of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS), noted that Kosovo's mining industry had caused "serious environmental degradation and impacts on the health of the local population";
- the UNHCR insisted on placing the camp there despite protests by its own Romani affairs advisor;
- in 2000, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission In Kosovo (UNMIK) found "blood lead concentrations exceeding the permissive limits" and recommended relocation;
- also in 2000, the then UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Bernard Kouchner stated that, "the people of Mitrovica are at risk because of this [Zvecan] smelter" and that, "as a doctor, as well as chief administrator of Kosovo, I would be derelict if I let this threat to the health of children and pregnant women continue for one more day"; and
- in 2004, the World Health Organisation insisted the situation was "urgent";
- and in 2005, the BBC reported that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had concluded that 'at least one child ha[d] died from lead poisoning', while the Kosovo Roma Refugee Foundation (KRRF) believed 27 had been killed.
The UN was responsible for the ravaged and vulnerable community's protection and rehabilitation; but instead, it has poisoned, crippled and killed them.
[This note was also posted over on Human Rights Archaeology.]