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위협에 노출된 어린이를 위한 유니세프 활동

2007.10.22

* Working for vulnerable Roma children
* 20 Jul 2007

On a fault line of Kosovo’s ethnic divide, a community displaced by conflict is getting ready to move. This is Cezmin Lug, a ramshackle cluster of wooden beams and sheets of steel, inhabited entirely by ethnic Roma. It is a dangerous place to call home. Decades of mining and industry have left the area heavily contaminated with lead. Many children show alarmingly high lead levels in their blood. But these residents say there’s nowhere else to go.

Sadeta Gashijan once lived here. Like many Roma living in the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica, she lost her original home to the flames of ethnic violence eight years ago.

Her family first fled to Albania, then to Montenegro. A few years later, they came back to live on a tiny plot directly beneath an electricity pylon.

SOUNDBITE (Albanian) Sadeta Gashijan, 16 years old: “It was not comfortable there. When it rained it would leak and we’d have to go out of the house and stay in my uncle’s place until the rain stopped.”

A few hundred meters away from Cezmin Lug, around 300 hundred Roma live in a better-organized community named Osterode.

Though conditions here are not ideal, its paved streets and sturdier buildings offer a healthier and more structured environment for these families.

Lidija Neziri lives here with her father and three younger brothers and sisters. She is only 9, but has already come close to getting married. Her father sent her to stay with an arranged fiance’s family, until police and social workers intervened to break the engagement.
While Lidija was unusually young, it is common in Romani communities for girls to be wed in their teens.

Lidija doesn’t go to primary school. But she does take part in a special catch up classes for children in Osterode. She hopes her father won’t try to send her off again to be married.

SOUNDBITE (Serbian) Lidija Neziri, 9 years old: “It’s better like this, to go to school, to read, to sing, to go everyday to school, to play, it’s better like this.”

According to UNICEF, the Romani are the most vulnerable ethnic group in Kosovo. In the aftermath of the violence of 1999, most were driven from their homes as they were viewed as collaborators with armed groups who had perpetrated violence during the conflict.

The majority settled in makeshift camps on the nothern, predominantly Serb side of Mitrovica. Job opportunities are limited, and few children remain in school.

SOUNDBITE (English) Robert Fuderich, Head of Office, Kosovo: “It’s difficult to get role models for Roma children when many of their parents have not gone to school, many have fathers and mothers who are illiterate. And many of t

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