António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, expressed his “deep regret” on Friday that hundreds of Roma have been poisoned by lead residues while living in camps administered by the United Nations peacekeeping mission In Kosovo, but stopped to apologise or individual compensation.
Dark fields were built in 1999 near the waste pile of an old lead smelter, and residents have expressed their health concern for years. Families living in the camps said the toxic remains caused fatal poisoning and disabilities in young children.
Friday’s announcement followed a 2016 report of the Advisory Committee on Human Rights, part of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo, strongly criticized the UN response to the demands of families in camps.
“The Secretary-General wishes to express his deep regret for the organization for the suffering of all people” living in the camps, said Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement. The United Nations has said it would create a trust fund for projects to help Rome, also known as Gypsies and other people living in camps. However, the trust fund does not include money, only a commitment to seek contributions from international donors. “By creating a non-trust fund for community assistance projects, rather than individual compensation for victims of their negligence, the UN sells victims of lead poisoning in their short Kosovo camps,” said Louis Charbonneau, The UN’s director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.