Hiljmnijeta Apuk, Human Rights Defender, Director of the NGO Little People of Kosovo

Hiljmnijeta Apuk´s objective is the promotion of minority rights, as she is confronted every day with the situation of the Roma community relocated in the camp of Ostaroda and in Cesmin Lug in North Mitrovica. Hiljmnijeta was born in 1956 in Mitrovica.
She graduated as an economist and lawyer at the University of Pristina. Her first NGO Little People of Yugoslavia was founded in the 1990ies as the first association of this kind on the Balcan peninsula, but the office was destroyed during the war in 1999. Before she re-founded the NGO Little People of Kosovo in 2002 she had already been working more than 25 years as a human rights defender, for example as a member of the presidency of the NGOs Muscular Dystrophic Associations of Yugoslavia and Association of Muscular Dystrophy in Kosovo. Now she combines this task with her activity as main editor and founder of the non-profit monthly magazine Newspaper to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of Kosovo as a free attachment in daily newspapers in Kosovo and as online-publication in six languages. She is working hard to to improve the quality of life of the people who are living in these camps and suffering the severe effects of lead pollution. First of all the aim is simply to make life a little bit more bearable, and, as an objective for the next years, provide access to decent housing, jobs and community services, education and health care

Tel.: ++381 28 533 996
++381 28 530 814
Mobile: ++381 63 853 8824
e-mail: hiljmnijetaa@yahoo.com


Kosovo: Act Now to Close Poisoned Camps

Kosovo: Poisoned by Lead
A Health and Human Rights Crisis in Mitrovica’s Roma Camps
Article by Wanda Troszczynska Van Genderen (Human Rights Watch)

"After 10 years, it's about time we had some momentum to solve this problem," said Troszczynska-van Genderen. "It is vital that the US and EU work with the authorities in Kosovo, including in Serb-controlled municipalities, to solve the crisis."

Human Rights Watch recommends that the Kosovo authorities and international donors act to organize a long-term solution including:

The urgent medical evacuation of current camp residents to acceptable temporary housing;
The permanent closure of the remaining camps;
Urgent treatment for lead contamination for all current and former residents;
A long-term housing solution based on the wishes of the residents; and
Access to welfare, medical treatment, education, and employment.



Mitrovica lead crisis

May 2008 – A survey, which was produced by the Institute of Public Health in Kosovska Mitrovica at the request of the representatives of the IDP camps in Northern Mitrovica confirmed previous allegations, according to which the lead level in the blood of Romani children living in these camps has remained at an alarmingly high level. Out of the 104 children tested, aged between 1 and 16 years, 18 have shown lead levels exceeding the critical ceiling of 45 μg/dL, beyond which doctors recommend chelation therapy. However, if it is confirmed that the indications, “Hi” and “Hi Mnogo” contained in the survey, actually refer to blood levels exceeding 65 μg/dL, which cannot be measured with standard equipment, the number of children with a critically high level of lead contamination in their blood goes up to 38, or 36.5 percent of the surveyed group (…)

Read the entire article: http://kosovoroma.wordpress.com/2008/05/27/mitrovica-lead-crisis


A forgotten promise

During my stay in Mitrovica, Kosovo, I visited in various ocasions the Roma refugee camp of Ostaroda in the northern part of the city. The conditions people are living there are infra-human and every family is affected by all kinds of the nocive effects of lead pollution, the remainings of heavy metal-mining by the ex-yugoslavian steel company Trepca. After the war between the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbia, the Roma got between the sides. Once one of the biggest communities on the balcan peninsula, the refugees remaining in the camp are waiting for settling in new houses in the southern part of the town. Roma Mahalla, how the project is called, sounds like a forgotten promise to the suffering families living in terrible conditions...

Together with Mrs. Hilmnijeta Apuk, director of the NGO Little People of Kosovo, the support of the NGO Mitrovica Community Building and Mr. Dzafer Buzoli, Camp Officer, representing the KAAD (Kosovo Agency for Advocacy and Development), we decided to found a new initiative for fund raising. Our first step is to collect a little amount of money for the first and fundamental needs of the people in Ostaroda and to organize an exposition of portrait pictures in November 2009 in the Freie Kunstschule München for further fund raising. All the money goes directly to Little People of Kosovo and to the Camp Management, they coordinate all the necessary actions in Mitrovica, responding to the needs and most urgent problems...

In collaboration with:

Little People of Kosovo (www.lpkosova.com)

Kosovo Agency for Advocacy and Development (www.kaad-ks.org)

Donations account:
Florian Bachmeier - A forgotten promise
Sparkasse Schliersee
account number: 12017216
bank code: 711 525 70