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Kosovo

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 5 January 2010

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have asked the United Nations and its agencies to move the families no longer covered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from the camp at Osterode in Kosovo which is contaminated by lead waste. [HL876]

The Government believe it is unacceptable that Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian internally displaced families have lived in lead contaminated camps for so long. When Kosovo declared independence, the UN and its relevant agencies handed responsibility to the Government of Kosovo for closing lead-contaminated camps and finding a sustainable solution. The Kosovan Government and the international community in Kosovo, together with the communities living in the camps, are now finally close to agreeing a solution. Our priority is to ensure this runs as smoothly as possible.

The Government, together with the Kosovan company PTK, are funding testing by specialists from Aberystwyth University of air, soil and water in the planned relocation site, the Roma Mahalla, to ensure that it is safe for the community to be relocated there permanently. If the land is safe, construction of a total of 200 new houses will begin. This has been pledged by USAID (50 houses) and the European Commission Liaison Office in Kosovo (150 houses). If the land is not safe, correctional measures will be taken.