Earlier this summer there was a spate of articles about the suffering of the gypsies of Kosovo. I’m excerpting from two of them, reading between the lines, of course:

NORTH MITROVICA, Kosovo | Gypsy Families in Kosovo on Toxic Land (Malcolm Garcia The Washington Times May 3, 2009)

Displaced by conflict and stranded by bureaucratic inertia, dozens of gypsy families remain on toxic land 10 years after they were relocated there by the United Nations after the Kosovo war.

Lead blackens the children’s teeth, blanks out memories and stunts growth. Other symptoms of lead poisoning include aggressive behavior, nervousness, dizziness, vomiting and high fever. The children swing between bursts of nervous hyperactivity and fainting spells. Some have epileptic fits.

The two resettlement camps — the Osterrode and Chesmin Lug — were established by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 1999 for gypsies, or Roma, as they are more commonly known in Europe…The camps, near a closed mining and smelting complex that includes a slag heap of 100 million tons of toxic materials, were intended as a temporary measure after a neighborhood that had been home to 9,000 gypsies was destroyed by ethnic Albanians as Serb security forces pulled out of the area in the final days of the Kosovo conflict in June 1999.

Time out. Sentences in which Albanians are wreaking havoc are always related in neutral tones and analysis is absent. So what the writer is casually saying is that Albanians were getting what they wanted — the Serb security forces were pulling out — but they nonetheless felt the need to burn stuff. And not just Serb stuff, but gypsy stuff. What the writer also reveals (and let’s credit him for doing at least that much) is that the Serb security forces in fact served to prevent such acts, their withdrawal allowing for such goings-on to occur. Most importantly, what is revealed is yet another chip of a mountain of evidence that the NATO intervention Albanians bought and won had nothing to do with “protecting Albanians agains Serbian repression” and everything to do with creating an opportunity to cleanse the province of everything non-Albanian. Because the people we went to war for were Albanian supremacists, today known as Albanians. (Since you won’t find a living or vocal non-supremacist among them today. Thank you, USA! Shared American and Kosovan values indeed!)

The neighborhood was on the southern shore of the Ibar River, which separates Serb-dominated northern Mitrovica from a southern, Albanian-dominated part.

The Albanians, furious at what they called atrocities by the Serbs during the war, accused the Roma of collaborating with the Serb army. The Roma say they hardly were in a position to do anything but struggle for their own survival and that the Albanians used them as a scapegoat.

Time out. Have we officially moved on to alleged atrocities, as opposed to taking the Albanians’ and NATO’s word for it? Such that we are now more accurately using “what [Albanians] called” atrocities — as opposed to “Serbian atrocities”? The implicit question in the reporter’s phrasing is a nice start — strangely not dogmatically taking Albanian ‘truth’ for the truth — ten years late, but refreshing nonetheless.

Whatever the truth behind the accusations and denials, moving Roma families next to a slag heap of toxic materials including lead, zinc, arsenic and other metals has made dozens of families suffer severe health problems and spawned a generation of brain-damaged children. [Is this what they mean by “Albanization”?]

When the World Health Organization tested the camp residents’ blood for lead in 2004, the readings for 90 percent of the children were off the scale, higher than the medical equipment was capable of measuring…Such children fall into the category of “acute medical emergency” and require immediate hospitalization.

Instead, the Roma children have remained in the camps, ingesting lead through the air, the dirt they play in and through their clothes dusted with lead tailings while drying on laundry lines. Even before their birth, lead enters them as they grow inside their mothers’ wombs from the water they drink.

One reason the situation has become so dire is that the Roma are not considered refugees by the U.N. but rather “internally displaced people.” That means they do not fit U.N. criteria for financing their resettlement abroad.

Indeed, we gave “refugee” status only to the culprits in the Kosovo war, resettling them throughout the U.S. and the rest of the Western world so they could plot attacks here and abroad (see Ft. Dix in 2007 and North Carolina last month). No one else got the refugee status out of that NATO gig — not Kosovo’s gypsies, Serbs, Jews, Gorani, or Croats — not anyone but our prized Frankenstein’s monsters.

…Like HIV/AIDS, lead attacks the immune system and can be fatal, though death from lead poisoning is difficult to determine. Most of those who have fallen ill in the camps have been treated in Serbian hospitals

So, just as with the Serbian Red Cross that the mountain Muslims, the Gorani, are dependent upon to survive, these largely Muslim Roma depend on Serbian hospitals. Not unlike the humanitarian aid coming from all over Serbia to the “Kosovar” refugees during the war their clan leaders waged. Or the Albanians escaping that war — to Serbia. In other words, after devastating Serbia’s environment and economy based on fabricated tales of “anti-Albanian” and “anti-Muslim” policies — devastation the country has yet to recover from — we’ve also put them in the position of footing the bill for the damage we caused. That’s in addition to Serbia’s struggling to absorb or place the highest number of refugees in Europe, thanks to Western defacation on the Balkan peninsula.

“My children get sick often,” said Muzafera Seljimi, sitting on a bench in Osterrode where she lives with her husband and four children. The left front tooth of her 4-year-old daughter was almost entirely covered by lead emerging from her gum. …

Thomas Hammarberg, European Commissioner for Human Rights… [said,] “It is sad the international community has not found a solution 10 years later. It is the single most major environmental disaster in Europe.”

Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since June 1999, as the war ended after a six-week NATO bombing campaign on the troops of President Slobodan Milosevic.

Pardon? On the “troops” of Slobodan Milosevic? This is the pro-American Washington Times reporter trying to preserve some semblance of decency about American actions in the Balkans. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong region, since the U.S. did not play by any rule book when it came to its war on Serbia. Ours was not a bombing campaign against troops; the bombs specifically targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure. But the writer continues struggling to explain our inscrutable war:

The war was aimed at halting Belgrade’s repression of the majority ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo.

Again, Belgrade’s “repression” of the Albanians was the Albanians’ voluntary retreat from their host society into the parallel structures that multi-culti Yugoslavia allowed them to build up over the decades — precisely in preparation for a war of secession.

…Hajrizi Rodna, 53, an Osterrode camp schoolteacher, holds classes in an aluminum shed built by UNHCR…
“A lot of them have bad memories,” she said. “When I dictate something, some of them only write a few words and stop. They are confused and look lost.”

…Feruz Jahirovic, 44, a father of four children…[said,] “My son is sick,” he said. “All of my children have high levels of lead.” He displayed medical documents from the Institute of Public Health in Mitrovica that indicated his 9-year-old son’s blood lead level was 43.7 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, more than four times the amount that causes brain damage.

“He has pains in his bones like rheumatism,” Mr. Jahirovic said. “He has stomach pains and headaches. He can not walk well and his memory is weak…”

Mr. Smajliji’s 10-year-old son has a lead blood level of more than 65 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, more than six times the amount that causes brain damage.

Between 2005 and 2008, Zoran Savich, a pediatrician with the Health Center of Kosovo Mitrovica, saw more than 300 patients in Osterrode and Chesmin Lug. In that time, he said, 77 people died of lead poisoning, many of them children.

Mercy Corps, an American aid organization, has budgeted $2.4 million to resettle 50 Roma families — about 250 people — this year in either north or south Mitrovica away from the contaminated sites… Some Roma who have been resettled by other international aid organizations face other dangers.

“I have seen many times Albanians beating up Roma here,” said Gushani Bekim, 24, who with his wife and three children was resettled in a newly built apartment in the Albanian stronghold of south Mitrovica. “I need work, but it is not safe to work here.” …

Here is an excerpt from another article about the gypsies, that came out the same week:

Abused, driven out and poisoned: the scandal of the Kosovo Roma
A shocking new report reveals the desperate conditions in which one of Europe’s most vulnerable populations is forced to live

An institutionalised crime against the Roma people is taking place in eastern Europe. A forthcoming report from Human Rights Watch documents an ongoing scandal at Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo, which began 10 years ago in the wake of the looting and burning to the ground of the entire settlement known as the Roma Mahalla.

This was once a vibrant home to some 8,000 people, most of them Muslims. But the inhabitants fled, fearing attacks by ethnic Albanians who saw the Roma as “collaborators” with the Serbs, with whom they share a language. Some 6,500 of these Mitrovica Roma have never returned — indeed, only about a tenth of a prewar population of 200,000 Kosovan Roma remain. The Nato-led Kosovo Force did not intervene at the time in the blighting of the Mahalla, but the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was quick to help the newly homeless, organising food and, over some months, places to live until their settlement could be restored.

The lead poisoning case is worse in one important particular. The UN created the camps, and the UN, along with the Kosovo authorities, bears legal responsibility for these people. It is a responsibility they all in their various departments continue to flout…

The Roma aren’t the only European people against whom an “institutionalized” and “ignored” crime has been in progress for over a decade. A report from almost two years ago mentioned the condition of the Roma and, unlike the two more mainstream Johnny-Come-Lately articles above, didn’t neglect to mention that in Kosovo Serbs suffer under much of the same conditions that the Roma do.

Serbs and Roma live in horrible conditions in Kosovo (Oct. 2007)

BRUSSELS, Oct 12 (Tanjug) - Serbs, Roma and other non-Albanian population[s] in Kosovo-Metohija continue to live in horrible conditions in Kosovo and Metohija, eight years after the arrival of international administration in Serbia’s southern province, participants of the session on “Multi-ethnicity, KFOR and UNMIK in Kosovo,” organized by the Independence and Democracy group in the European Parliament, have concluded.

Representative of the Roma community in France Nedzmedin Meziri said that the status of the Roma in Kosovo is catastrophic, giving a number of shocking examples of discrimination and limited movement of the Roma in Kosovo. […]

Also coming before the Guardian and Washington Times articles, back in January, was an article from the BBC, which was similarly revealing. Excerpted:

Kosovo’s poisoned generation

…In 2004, the WHO recommended the evacuation of Cesmin Lug, and two more Roma camps at Kablare and Zitkovac.

All had been set up by the UNHCR in 1999 as a temporary measure, when the Roma Mahalla, on the southern shore of the Ibar River, was burnt down by Albanians in the dying days of the conflict over Kosovo.

The US government has also launched a new project to re-house 50 families from Cesmin Lug — but there are complications.

Some Roma at Cesmin Lug told me…they would not feel safe living among Albanians again, after what happened in 1999.

And has been happening ever since…