European Interest

MEPs: Individual compensation to lead poisoning victims in Kosovo

Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
Refugee camp of Kosovar Romani in southern Central Serbia, close to Kosovo.

55 MEPs from various political groups have signed a letter urging UN Secretary-General António Guterres to take long overdue steps to ensure that the victims of widespread lead poisoning at UN-run camps in Kosovo receive individual compensation, adequate health care and educational support.

The UN’s role in the violation of human rights has been clearly documented by the Human Rights Advisory Panel (HRAP), as well as by international and local human rights groups. The affected Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in Northern Kosovo are struggling to care for sick family members who were exposed to toxic lead for more than a decade. Many of those affected, including children, are experiencing myriad health problems and need financial and social support for medicine or healthy food for their children.

“While the UN was aware of the health risks in the camps since 2000, they only relocated the people to a safe location over a decade later. The Trust Fund that was created by the UN falls short of offering individual compensation and specifically targeting those affected by lead poisoning. To this day, no states have contributed to it, while the victims’ situation remains equally severe,” said Kati Piri (S&D, Netherlands),

“The UN should be ashamed of their behaviour towards the affected Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities – first the UN resettled them in camps contaminated by lead and then they let these people live there for over 10 years, failing to relocate them even after they discovered the risks. It is the UN’s responsibility to offer individual compensation to these victims,” added Soraya Post (S&D, Sweden).

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