MINELRES: UN Report ignores the situation of Kosovo Roma

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Mar 11 18:25:21 2005

Original sender: Roma Network <romale@zahav.net.il>

UN Report ignores the situation of Kosovo Roma

The report presented by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the UN
Security Council on 24 February set out a modestly optimistic picture of
the progress achieved in the UN-administrated province, but maintained
that none of the eight standards has been fully met. Fulfilment of the
standards is considered a prerequisite for the opening of the status
negotiations that might lead to Kosovo’s independence.

Further progress is needed in the situation of ethnic minorities. The
report shows, for instance, that members of ethnic minorities continue
to be underrepresented within public institutions, both as elected
representatives and as staff members. It concludes that fears over their
security seriously constrain their freedom of movement.

While the report gives ample representation to the situation of the
Kosovo Serbs, it practically ignores other minorities, in particular the
Roma, once the third largest group within the population. This is easily
demonstrated by a simple counting of references: Roma, Ashkali and
Egyptians are referred to ten times in the 22-pages document; Kosovo
Serbs 55 times, not including the frequent mention of their political
and religious institutions, and of the Belgrade authorities. On four
occasions the report highlights the challenges encountered by the Serb
communities, adding qualifications such as ‘in particular’ or
‘specially’ to the description of their situation. No such thing is done
about the Roma and other communities decried as « Gypsies » who appear
almost exclusively in general enumerations, as for instance in the
number of representatives of members of minority communities within the
Kosovo Police Corps, etc..

The report fails to address the lack of political representation of Roma
and their discrimination in the field of employment. Even in cases of
far greater concern to Roma, such as with the informal settlements, the
report is neglectful. If we trust the UN’s own account, Roma were
likewise not mentioned in the debate between the Council members. At a
few months before the possible start of the status negotiations this is
hardly a comforting sign.

Karin Waringo