Taking into account an expert panel report on alleged human rights violations by the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, the Secretary-General has decided to establish a Trust Fund to implement community-based assistance projects, his spokesperson said today.
Among the cases reviewed by the Human Rights Advisory Panel, which examined alleged rights violations by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), was a complaint submitted by 138 individuals from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities that they suffered lead poisoning and other serious health consequences as a result of their relocation to internally-displaced persons (IDP) camps in northern Kosovo.
The trust fund will finance community-based assistance projects, primarily in North Mitrovica, South Mitrovica and Leposaviæ, but will benefit more broadly the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities.
“The assistance projects will focus on the most pressing needs of those most vulnerable communities, including with respect to health services, economic development and infrastructure,” said Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, in a statement.
“The Secretary-General is keenly aware of the particular plight of those individuals, as well as the other members of these most vulnerable communities who also lived in the IDP camps” and “wishes to express the Organization’s profound regret for the suffering endured by all individuals living in the IDP camps,” the Spokesperson said.
“The Secretary-General believes that it is our shared duty to support the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in Kosovo and ensure that they receive the assistance that they need,” Mr. Dujarric said, noting that the UN will make every effort, in consultation with Member States, to mobilize the necessary resources in support of the Trust Fund.
The Organization will also continue to draw lessons from its experience in Kosovo and from the work of the Panel and take action to prevent such situations from happening again, he said.
Since November 2007, the Panel has reviewed more than 500 complaints in the context of United Nations peacekeeping missions. In a number of cases, the Panel concluded that there had been failures to uphold human rights standards. The Panel completed its work on the Kosovo case and subsequently provided a final report in July 2016.