The United Nations should “provide justice and remedies” to people from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, who suffered lead poisoning in UN camps on toxic wasteland in Kosovo between 1999 and 2013, an independent right expert has said.
Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxics, Baskut Tuncak said that although the organisation has set up a Trust Fund to implement community-based assistance projects, it has not received any contributions from the Member States.
About 600 people lived in the camp,-following their displacement during conflict between the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Kosovo Albanian rebels during the period. About half were children under the age of 14. Many of them died due to poisoning.
“I am deeply disappointed by the inertia surrounding this case,” he said, “and that the solution offered by the UN is an inoperative and fundamentally flawed Trust Fund, which will neither provide justice nor the necessary elements of an effective remedy for the victims.”
Although the UN took measures to prevent poisoning of peacekeeping personnel in 2000, such measures were taken for the residents only in 2006.
“After sobering discussions with victims and their families and assessing the facts of this tragic case, the circumstances demand individual compensation and a public apology by the United Nations, in addition to community-based projects,” Mr Tuncak said.
“The UN’s integrity is at issue,” he continued. “It should reform its approach and mobilise the necessary resources to fully implement the recommendations of its own Human Rights Advisory Panel without further delay.”
He recommended compensation payments to 138 individuals and a public apology for failing to comply with human rights standards.