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Crisis 1999
News Archive 1999

Fearing Albanian reprisals

More than a half of Gypsy population fled Kosovo since mid-June

The acting Special Representative of the secretary-general for Kosovo, Sergio Vieira de Mello, today went to Kosovo Polje outside Pristina to look into the desperate situation of several thousand Roma (gypsies) displaced from their homes and housed in a school. It was "truly an appalling site," according to de Mello's spokesman. Plans are underway to move the Romas to a new tent village being erected by KFOR and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ease the living and sanitary conditions. De Mello stressed that it was up to the Albanian leadership to demonstrate that they are committed to a Kosovo where human rights and the rule of law for all were protected. It was in the interest of the Kosovo Albanians to demonstrate their commitment toward this end or risk losing the commitment and support of the international community.

Dragoljub Ackovic, head of the Congressional Party of Roms, said that more than a half of Gypsy population of Kosovo, most of them living in Prizren and Gnjilane, has fled Kosovo since mid-June, fearing reprisals from returning ethnic Albanian refugees. He warned that Serbian authorities "do not want to accept" those Gypsies who have fled Kosovo to other parts of Serbia. "Some 8,000 Roms from Kosovo have found shelter in Belgrade, several thousands have fled to Montenegro, while hundreds of them left abroad," up to 5,000 Roms "who want to flee Kosovo are still unable to leave" Pristina suburb Kosovo Polje because "they do not have a place to go," he added.

Source: Free Serbia

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