Hammarberg Shocked by Roma Refugees’ Fate
The European Council's Commssioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, has criticized Sweden for sending back Roma refugees to Kosovo. The Swede called it a scandal that Roma refugees are forced to settle in lead-contaminated camps since the 1999 Kosovo war.
Hammarberg, who was in Kosovo for a two-day fact finding mission, called on the international community and the Kosovo authorities to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. "Still I feel ashamed this is happening in Europe during our life time," he added after visiting the camps.
One of three lead-contaminated camps has been closed but there are still some 500 Roma refugees living in two remaining camps. After a NATO led bombing campaign that ousted Serbian troops from Kosovo in 1999, a newly established UN administration settled Roma refugees in three camps in the north which turned out by contaminated because of a nearby lead mine.
The Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner also called upon European countries not to send Kosovo Albanian refugees back to the country on a large scale. He explicitly appealed to Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria to show restraint when sending people back.