Viewing cable 07PRISTINA734
Title: KOSOVO: ROMA CAMPS CONTINUE TO BE PROBLEMATIC

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07PRISTINA7342007-10-09 08:50:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Pristina
VZCZCXRO4126
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHPS #0734/01 2820850
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 090850Z OCT 07
FM USOFFICE PRISTINA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7749
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1304
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHFMISS/AFSOUTH NAPLES IT
RHMFISS/CDR TF FALCON
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEPGEA/CDR650THMIGP SHAPE BE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUFOANA/USNIC PRISTINA SR
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRISTINA 000734 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR DRL, INL, AND EUR/SCE, NSC FOR BRAUN, USUN FOR 
DREW SCHUFLETOWSKI, USOSCE FOR STEVE STEGER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/05/2017 
TAGS: PGOV EAID KDEM UNMIK YI KZ
SUBJECT: KOSOVO: ROMA CAMPS CONTINUE TO BE PROBLEMATIC 
 
REF: PRISTINA 594 
 
Classified By: COM TINA KAIDANOW FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY:  The lead-contaminated Roma IDP camp Cesmin 
Lug remains open more than three months after UNMIK committed 
to closing it (reftel).  Funding is running out at Osterode, 
the alternate and safer camp, for services essential to 
preserving the health of Roma children vis-a-vis their lead 
blood levels.  Media attention may soon be focused on the 
situation.  Some Roma families are scheduled to move from 
Cesmin Lug to a new building in Roma mahala on October 15. 
This will open up space at Cesmin Lug which we are loathe to 
see re-filled with incoming families.  It becomes ever more 
urgent that the entire camp be closed and demolished.  Our 
understanding is that a suitable closure plan exists within 
UNMIK.  It is not clear why action has not been taken.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
¶2. (SBU) Cesmin Lug camp in northern Mitrovica remains open, 
with an estimated 141 people inhabiting its dangerously 
lead-contaminated environs.  According to CDC's June report, 
camp residents are exposed to lead from multiple sources, 
including highly contaminated soil and peeling paint.  Our 
October 4 visit revealed no change or improvement in living 
conditions at the camp since June. 
 
¶3. (SBU) Conditions at Osterode have deteriorated.  Security 
enforcement to prevent hazardous lead smelting on-site is 
slipping, with new burn sites appearing within the camp. 
(NOTE: Camp manager Norwegian Church Association (NCA) was 
awaiting WHO test results on the sites as of October 4.  END 
NOTE.)  Camp premises, which should be washed down twice a 
month to keep play surfaces free of lead dust, have not been 
cleaned in almost four months due to lack of funding for 
water trucks.  NCA also ran out of money for the 
UNMIK-funded, NCA-paid, WHO-trained Serb doctors conducting 
lead treatment in Osterode and lead testing in Osterode and 
Cesmin Lug.  In the absence of the extra pay, local Serb 
doctors and nurses no longer test or treat children in the 
camps for lead exposure.  As a result, Osterode's lead 
treatment clinic closed its doors October 1.  While it is 
possible for families to visit the local hospital for lead 
testing, none have done so, and NCA, UNMIK and WHO view it as 
highly unlikely in the polarized political environment of 
northern Mitrovica.  No one expects that Roma families would 
take their children to the local hospital twice daily as 
required for treatment.  On the other hand, since no one has 
tested blood lead levels (BLLs) since June, it is impossible 
to know how many camp children are still in need of 
treatment. 
 
¶4. (SBU)  None of the BLL data collected over the past year 
and a half has been released, including the data from June. 
Anecdotally, both WHO and CDC believe the BLLs have 
decreased, but with no data we cannot confirm that treated 
and relocated children have safer blood lead levels.  Since 
November 2006, WHO has told us their report on the results is 
"in the process of being completed"; in an October 4 meeting 
they told us the data is now in a clearance process with WHO 
deputy regional director Nata Menadbe in Copenhagen.  We have 
reached out to UNICEF and Embassy Geneva to help us gain 
access to the WHO report. 
 
¶5. (SBU) According to UNICEF, a team of German journalists 
visited Kosovo the week of September 23 to cover the Roma 
issue.  Their focus was forced returns from Germany, and they 
spent an entire day in northern Mitrovica at Osterode and 
more time in the southern Mitrovica Roma mahala.  UNICEF 
expects media coverage of the Roma situation in Mitrovica 
will be forthcoming and told us the team was led by "the 
German equivalent of Dan Rather." (NOTE: USOP's involvement 
with the Roma in northern Mitrovica began following a 2005 
New York Times article calling attention to their disastrous 
living conditions.  END NOTE.) 
 
¶6. (SBU) The final apartment building in the first phase of 
Roma mahala reconstruction is set to open October 15. 
 
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According to UNMIK, seven families from Osterode and four 
from Cesmin Lug (approximately 25 individuals) will move in. 
While this is excellent news for those families, it will open 
up space at Cesmin Lug which in the past has been quickly 
taken by new arrivals.  As noted in reftel, this undermines 
efforts to close Cesmin Lug by increasing the number of its 
residents who are not eligible to move to Osterode.  (NOTE: 
Osterode was designated for the original residents of three 
lead-contaminated camps: Cesmin Lug, Kablare, and Zitkovac; 
the latter two have been closed and demolished.  Although in 
July it seemed that UNMIK would need to plan housing for 24 
ineligible people when it closed Cesmin Lug, UNMIK now tells 
us that number has fallen to eight people and they will move 
in with extended family around Kosovo. END NOTE.) 
 
¶7. (C) We have learned that UNMIK has a suitable plan for 
closing Cesmin Lug.  Although it has gone through several 
iterations, the general design is as follows:  First, UNMIK 
will begin an information campaign to notify Cesmin Lug 
residents of the necessity to relocate to Osterode and the 
imminent discontinuation of all services at Cesmin Lug. 
(NOTE: This would be at least the third time similar 
campaigns have been undertaken at Cesmin Lug; WHO undertook 
earlier efforts.  Cesmin Lug currently receives free 
electricity and water from northern Mitrovica utilities.  END 
NOTE.)  Second, electricity would be cut.  Third, firewood 
supplies would cease.  Fourth, repairs to oft-vandalized 
shower and toilet facilities would be discontinued.  Fifth, 
random health services currently supplied to Cesmin Lug by 
the local hospital would be removed.  Sixth, the camp would 
be disconnected from the water mains.  This is a last resort 
and UNMIK hopes the earlier steps will motivate Roma to move 
to Osterode, which is located just across the road.  Finally, 
abandoned encampments would be immediately destroyed to 
prevent reoccupation. 
 
¶8. (C) UNMIK DCA met with WHO, UNHCR, UNICEF, and NCA on 
October 3 to solicit their support for the closure plan, to 
commence on October 15 following the end of Ramadan. 
According to UNMIK, all but WHO gave their support.  WHO 
believes that the above steps will not be sufficient to make 
residents leave Cesmin Lug and will simply worsen their 
living conditions.  In WHO's view, which we have also heard 
from other sources, what actually caused the Roma to vacate 
the earlier Kablare and Zitkovac camps was word from informal 
Serb authorities that it was time to leave.  Sources within 
UNMIK (protect) recently told us that these authorities now 
see themselves gaining valuable real estate from evacuation 
of Cesmin Lug, with plans allegedly underway to build a green 
market on the property.  If true, this could exponentially 
increase the chances that Roma will actually move to 
Osterode. 
 
¶9. (C) It is not clear that UNMIK itself is in agreement 
about moving forward with the closure plan.  We have learned 
PDSRSG Schook verbally approved the above action plan for 
Cesmin Lug; however, it is not clear that UNMIK's regional 
office in Mitrovica has been instructed to comply with the 
plan. 
 
¶10. (C) COMMENT:  We are dismayed that Cesmin Lug remains 
open and inhabited.  Roma at Osterode, who moved to the camp 
on international assurances that it would be safer, are 
increasingly doubtful as conditions worsen; this makes it 
even more difficult to persuade Roma at Cesmin Lug to move. 
Although UNMIK told us 50,000 euro in funding for Osterode is 
in the pipeline, we are disappointed at the long delays in 
high-level attention and assistance that have allowed the 
camp to deteriorate.  UNMIK hardly needs the black eye of 
negative media coverage of Osterode and Cesmin Lug.  Further, 
UNMIK Mitrovica's non-cooperation would seriously complicate 
Cesmin Lug's closure.  We will urge UNMIK to ensure that the 
plan they committed to developing back in July be implemented 
as soon as possible.  END COMMENT. 
KAIDANOW