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Hammarberg Shocked by Roma Refugees’ Fate

Published fredag 12 februari 2010 kl 18.57
Camp Cesmin Lug in Kosovo is contaminated

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.

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