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Rachel Francis-Ingham: UK Association of Gypsy Women

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on February 1, 2010

Kosovo’s Poisoned Generation

Rachel Francis-Ingham: UK Association of Gypsy Women

‘Genocide Awareness and Holocaust Commemoration’ UPF Meeting

February 1st, 2010

In WW2 our people were murdered in their tens of thousands in Hitler’s death camps:

Like the Jews, Gypsies were singled out by the Nazis for racial persecution and annihilation. The first to go were the German Sinte Gypsies; 30,000 were deported East in three waves in 1939, 1941 and 1943. Those married to Germans were exempted but were sterilized, as were their children after the age of twelve.

They were ‘nonpersons,’ of `foreign blood,’ `labour-shy,’ and as such were termed asocials. To a degree, they shared the fate of the Jews in their ghettos, in the extermination camps, before firing squads, as medical guinea pigs, and being injected with lethal substances in Auschwitz, Dachau, Mauthausen, Ravensbruck and other camps.

At Sachsenhausen they were subjected to special experiments that were to prove scientifically that their blood was different from that of the Germans.

A contemporary Nazi theorist believed that `the Gypsy cannot, by reason of his inner and outer makeup, be a useful member of the human community. The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 aimed at the Jews were soon amended to include the Gypsies. In 1937, they were classified as asocials, second-class citizens, subject to concentration camp imprisonment.

Ethnic Cleansing did not end for my people in 1945.

During the Balkans war in 1999, again our people were murdered, many remain missing, and many others driven from their homes and businesses and became ‘displaced people’

Over a decade later the Roma people remain on contaminated camps in Kosovo.

A 200 metre high mountain of 100 million tons of lead waste, the air thick with a fine, grey dust that blows onto Osterode and Cesmin Lug camps in northern Kosovo where they were placed by the UN.

In Cesmin Lug, the children go barefoot, even in winter, on the polluted earth.

In Osterode there is concrete, running water, and indoor toilets, but still the wind blows the deadly dust through the air, every breath they take is poisoned.

Around 400 of the 650 refugees at Osterode are Children, with more than 200 under the age of ten. Victims of broken promises by United Nations charity chiefs more than a decade after British troops helped free Kosovo.

They have the highest levels of poison in their blood ever recorded in history on humans.

The world health authority called for the immediate evacuation of the camps in 2004, 2006 and 2009.

Dorit Nitzan Head of the world health authority regional office in Belgrade said
“Every child conceived in these camps will be born with irreversible brain damage.” 77 Deaths to date due to toxic poisoning

In 2004, W.H.O recommended the evacuation of the camps that had been set up by the UNHCR in 1999 as a temporary measure, when the Roma Mahalla, on the southern shore of the Ibar River, was burnt down by Albanians in the dying days of the conflict over Kosovo.

The refugee camps were built close to the Trepca lead mine and smelting works. The factory was closed by order of the UN administration in Kosovo, in 2000. But the slag heaps were never cleaned up. The children are sick with lead poisoning. Lead blackens the teeth, blanks out their memory, and stunts their growth.

Their mood swings between bursts of nervous hyper activity, and something like a coma. Some have epileptic fits. The only way the children can be saved is to evacuate to where medical treatment can be accessed, even then, it will take ten years of sustained weekly medical treatment to rid the blood of poison.

Young men: whose hands are blown up like balloons from the excess lead in their bodies: parents having to watch their children suffer a slow death, knowing they can do nothing? Meanwhile, only one thing is certain this winter in the camps – more children will die.

In May 2008, the UNHCR handed responsibility for the camps to the Kosovo government.

The scandal of the toxic camps is truly shocking in as much as for 10 years, there has not been the political will to medically evacuate and treat these Roma families who were placed in this toxic wasteland by the international community. Yet this “acute medical emergency” still remains unaddressed today in 2010

Paul Polansky: Author, Historian, Poet, and Former Advisor to the UN on Roma in 1999, and Human Rights Activist, has tried in vain to get the refugees human rights recognised, has recently returned from a week in the camps.

He told me of nine year old Ergin who is suffering from Kidney Failure and his seven year old brother, who shares Ergin’s special diet, and is in an even worse condition. Although Ergin has been hospitalised six or seven times during the past year, he will not survive without his special diet. Neither will his brother.

Ergin was taken off the special diet last September by the Kosovo Agency for Advocacy & Development, who are a Pristina-based Albanian NGO that has a contract with the Minister of Communities and returns to administer the Romani camps in north Mitrovica, KAAD said: the government could no longer meet the cost of the 7 euro’s a day for the special diet. Theirs will be probably be, the next two deaths in Osterode.

As Paul said, we have already lost an entire generation of Romani children to irreversible brain damage’, his contention is that it is doubtful, that they will be able to father another generation

My organization are mounting a campaign calling on the UNHCR to make good their promise of more than a decade ago, for the immediate evacuation and re-settlement of the Roma people on the toxic waste camps in Kosovo.

My colleague and I came here tonight to make an appeal to each and every one of you for your support in this campaign to assist us in lobbying the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon and the High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

Our Prime Minister, members of this Honorable House, MPs, MEPs and human rights organisations to solicit their support in this most urgent matter.

2010 is the European year for combating poverty and exclusion. In March 2000, EU leaders pledged to make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty by 2010.

With this in mind then, 2010 is the perfect time to lobby for the Roma people in Kosovo.

For more information:  Roma Osterode Cesmin Lug Kosovo

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One Response to “Rachel Francis-Ingham: UK Association of Gypsy Women”

  1. […] Rachel Francis-Ingham: UK Association of Gypsy Women […]

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