For favor of publication/broadcasting : Hindus ask million euros compensation for each Roma lead poisoning victim in Kosovo

April 29th, 2009 - 11:42 am ICT by Sampurn Wire  

Hindus have asked for minimum one million euros compensation for each of the Roma and other victims of lead poisoning in northern Kosovo.

Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was highly shocking to learn that that the world let this environmental health and humanitarian disaster happen in 21st century Europe, which boasts of its human rights record.

According to reports, lead poisoning caused severe and sometimes irreversible organ and brain damage, including death and abortion, to Roma and other families relocated to these camps in a polluted area near a lead smelter in Mitrovica temporarily (some say for maximum 45 days) in 1999 by the United Nations following the Kosovo war on land reportedly highly contaminated with lead, zinc, arsenic and other metals. They still remain on this toxic land, thus further aggravating already existing health problems.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that United Nations, European Union, Kosovo Government, World Health Organization (WHO) and others involved should formally apologize to affected families besides compensating each victim (family of the victim in case the person died due to lead contamination) with minimum one million Euros each.

Rajan Zed further said that an independent enquiry should be instituted into this preventable disaster. Immediately relocate affected families from this so called toxic wasteland, arrange thorough medical treatment for them, find them safe permanent housing, improve their health condition, and provide them livelihood support, Zed adds.

An investigation by Kosovo Ombudsperson Institution concerning this lead contamination, concluded “that the elements of the case give rise to a continuous violation by UNMIK (United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) of more than one international human rights standards directly applicable in Kosovo, among which the right to life, the right to health, the right to adequate housing, the principle of non-discrimination and several rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

According to this investigation, “In April 2008 the Republic of Serbia Institute for Public Health and Protection performed another series of tests on 104 children, which showed that the Roma population still suffered from an extremely high level of contamination, some of them having such a high concentration of lead in their blood that the testing instruments were not able to measure it. According to this investigation, this lead contamination has affected “the mental and physical development of generations of children and adults.”

It quotes a WHO expert who considers it “one of the most serious lead-related environmental health disasters in the world and history”.

According to a statement of Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, “The severe and possibly irreversible health risks of those living in the camps have been known about for almost a decade.” He called situation in the camps as a “humanitarian disaster calling for an immediate and determined response.”

A BBC report of December 02, 2005 regarding this issue said, “Officials now hope to move the Roma to a new camp by the end of the year. They will remain there until work has finished on rebuilding their original homes in the region around Mitrovica during 2006.”

Quoting Per Byman, Sweden’s humanitarian director, it said “Children are being born dysfunctional, with limbs missing and so on,” Levels of lead poisoning among Roma in camps …are currently classed as an “acute medical emergency” by US medical authorities, BBC report added,

This “acute medical emergency”, which some have called persecution by neglect, still remains unaddressed despite a write-up in The New York Times in 2006.

The reports suggest that lead entered the bodies of some children even before birth from drinking water consumed by their mothers. Some children had exceptionally high blood lead levels, more than four times the amount that causes brain damage. Few children had a lead level of 120 μg/dL, the highest in medical history.

Rajan Zed suggested that the responsible organizations, in collaboration with other world bodies, NGOs (non-governmental organizations), and international donors should set-up a fund to pay compensation to the affected and for their treatment and rehabilitation.

Zed pointed out that references to Roma people in Europe reportedly went as far back as ninth century AD and asked, “How many more centuries Roma have to reside in Europe to prove that they are “real and equal’ Europeans like any other.” -Sampurn Media

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