Human Rights Expert Urges U.N. To Take ‘Immediate Action’ To Compensate Kosovo Lead Poisoning Victims

Associated Press: Expert urges U.N. remedies for lead poisoning victims
“A human rights expert on Wednesday urged the United Nations to take ‘immediate action’ to provide justice and remedies to displaced minority communities in Kosovo who were sheltered on lead-contaminated wasteland. … Forced from their homes in Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo, after the 1998-99 war, some 600 members of the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities were housed by the U.N. between 1999 and 2013 on land known to have been contaminated by lead from a nearby mine. Several children and adults have died and many have experienced health problems, including seizures, kidney disease, various physical and mental disabilities, and memory loss. … In 2016, a U.N. human rights advisory panel recommended compensation payments to 138 members of the three communities and an apology for failing to comply with human rights standards…” (Semini, 3/13).

New York Times: U.N. Is Rebuked by Own Expert for Neglecting Kosovo Poisoning Victims
“…[The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, known as Unmik,] took action to protect United Nations peacekeepers from exposure to lead waste in 2000 but did not take action on behalf of the Roma families in the camps until 2006, [Baskut Tuncak, a United Nations expert monitoring cases relating to hazardous substances,] said Wednesday. … A year after the panel’s report, António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, expressed his ‘profound regret’ for the suffering the families endured, but stopped short of apologizing or offering compensation. In response to the panel’s criticism, the United Nations said it would create a trust fund for projects to help the Roma and other people who lived in the camps. But it did not allocate any money and said only that it would call for contributions from international donors, expressing the hope that it would raise $5 million. The fund was established in 2017 and never received any donor contributions, Mr. Tuncak said…” (Cumming-Bruce, 3/13).

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