Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Roma Mehala

We got word today that our ORB (Occupational Recuperation Break) has been changed from one week every three months to one week every two months!  It will be great to get some more traveling in :)  Supposedly the new vacation cycle is because of the pollution in Kosovo.  Thinking about the pollution, I don't think that I've mentioned about the debate over the new Roma settlement in north Kosovo. 
The UN has been trying to get the Romas living in the lead-contaminated camp near the Trepce lead mine to move to the old French KFOR base after the WHO and Red Cross found critical levels of lead in many of the children's blood.  The Romas have refused to move to the base because they do not want to be temporarily housed anymore.  As many as 7,000 Romas lived along the Ibar River but the area known as Roma Mahala that was "razed by Albanian mobs"  in 1999.  Until now, little has been done to rebuild the village and the displaced population has been living atop the toxic Trepce site for six years.  UN Officials are urging the Romas to move but they are refusing saying that the move will only further delay the reconstruction of their former homes.  You can read more at Reuters Alertnet or UN News Center.