Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Kosovo Ashkali leader deplores repatriation from Germany

Prishtina [Pristina], 21 May: The representatives of the Ashkali community in Kosova [Kosovo] reacted today against the "forcible" return of members of their community from Germany and other EU countries since the conditions for their return to Kosova have not improved.

PDAShK [Democratic Albanian Ashkali Party Of Kosovo] Chairman Sabit Rrahmoni, who is also a member of the Kosova Assembly, has been following implementation of an agreement that was signed between UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] administration and the German Government on repatriation of all Kosova citizens without a legal status in Germany, including members of the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities.

"A few days ago, Germany repatriated several members of this community, some of whom - three or four families - have been accommodated in tents or camps, as their homes have been destroyed," Rrahmoni said.

According to him, this shows that there are no conditions for the mass return of members of this community to Kosova. "We will oppose the return of our members from the Diaspora until the rest of the displaced in the region - Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia - have returned," the PDAShK leader said.

Otherwise, Rrahmoni said their return would result in a real catastrophe because, according to him, there were many problems in Kosova facing this community and that many of them had not rebuilt their destroyed homes.

In Fushe Kosove [Kosovo Polje], Rrahmoni said, 200 families returned in 2000 and, being unable to rebuild their homes, they were living in the homes of those living abroad. "If the return from the Diaspora continues, then these families will have to vacate those houses and go to Plemetin or be accommodated in other camps, which would, of course, be damaging to the positive ongoing processes in Kosova," Rrahmoni said.

According to the information that the PDAShK has, there are 8,300 members of the Ashkali community in Germany. According to Rrahmoni, there are also about 1,200 members of the Egyptian community and about 3,500 Roma.

The Ashkali leader said that under the agreement they should be repatriated by the end of this year, with most of them being repatriated during the summer.

"It is expected that 500 of them will be repatriated in May, whereas the largest number is expected to return during the summer," Rrahmoni said.

The leader of this community also said that his party was doing its utmost to prevent the repatriation, given that there are no conditions for that. He said that the Kosova Assembly's Communities' Committee had urged the Assembly Presidency to pay a visit to Berlin and ask the German Government directly to stop the repatriation.

Rrahmoni said that this would not affect the process of meeting the standards because, according to him, the return of all refugees is not one of the standards but a right of everyone who wants to return.

The members of the Ashkali, Roma, and Egyptian communities have faced many problems, especially housing problems, in the postwar period. Some of the members of these communities have been accommodated in camps in Plemetin, Kastriot [Obilic], and Mitrovice [Kosovska Mitrovica].

The Kosova Government has promised to close these camps, which have been described as "the shame of Kosova society," by this summer. Deputy Prime Minister Adem Salihaj has said that the Kosova Government had been working hard to close the Plemetin camp as soon as possible, possibly before June, so that this issue could be taken off the government's agenda.

The government's objective, according to Salihaj, is not just to close the camp but also to resolve the housing problem of the families living there.


Anonymous said...

The Kosovo Government is not prepared to take on this action, the Roma villiages have not been rebuilt(Roma Mahala) etc. so where are they going to go, Ill tell you where, along the banks of the rivers, living out of trash cans, in Serb citys like Mitovicia
(Out of sight out of mind). After all, visiting dignitaries do not come to these places to often and when they do, they are sheltered from the realities as to what goes on in these areas to both Serbs and Romas, and when they are done with their little (PR) trip they go back to Pristina and pat themselves on the back and say what a fine job they and the UN have done.
Pray for the Serbs and the Romas they need it.

Anonymous said...

It is sad about the Roma. However, the Serbs need to pray for forgiveness for their sins. They have murdered so many people and caused so much suffering in the Balkans--to Slovenes & Bosnians & Kosovars & Croats, Slavs & Albanians, Muslims & Christians alike. No nation has caused so much death & destruction in Europe since WWII.

Anonymous said...

One thing I don't understand is how can the Roma live in Serbia? From my experience they are treated like sub-humans but I think the reason why most went there is because of the language.

Most Romas speak Serbian, whereas most Ashkali speak Albanian, thus the Ashkali stayed, Romas left. It's sad that one has to go to a country where racism has been the "in thing" during the last 15 years.

Anonymous said...

Clarification, from my experience of seeing them in Serbia, even Belgrade.

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