The well-being of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian repatriated children should be at the core of the ongoing debate in regard to readmission agreements between Western countries and Kosovo
Prishtinë/Priština, 30 November 2010 – Of the 12,000 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians from Kosovo long-term tolerated in Germany and legally obliged to leave, almost half are children, said UNICEF’s report ‘Integration Subject to Conditions’ launched today.
UNICEF Kosovo in collaboration with Forum 2015 organised a round table debate to discuss the findings of ‘Integration subject to Conditions’, a report on the current situation of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children in Germany and after their repatriation to Kosovo.
In recent years, many Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians have been displaced because of the war, ethnic conflicts, extreme poverty and political instability. It is estimated that over 50,000 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians escaped from Kosovo to Germany during the period between the Yugoslav war and today, many of these families including over 5,000 children are at risk of being repatriated from Germany to Kosovo. In this regard, the preparation and signing of recent readmission agreements between Western European countries and Kosovo has caused particular concern about the planned repatriations of several thousand Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families originating from Kosovo. The Kosovo Government has approved the first reintegration strategy and action plan. However, existing reintegration practices as well as donor-funded reintegration programmes do not sufficiently meet the needs of the most vulnerable at present.
The report 'Integration Subject to Conditions’ launched today shows clearly that children are the ones most affected by forced returns. According to findings, existing return and repatriation practices fail to provide for a return in safety and dignity. The needs and best interests of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children in particular, regardless of whether they return voluntarily or are being repatriated against their will, are not sufficiently taken into account. The research confirmed alarmingly high school drop-out rates among returning Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children, high rates of statelessness (e.g. children not being registered), generally poor living conditions, high rates of extreme poverty and inadequate access to health care services, especially among children with special needs or chronic diseases.
“The fate of these children is worrying and their future uncertain” said Johannes Wedenig, UNICEF Head of Office. “Despite being disadvantaged from the start, many of the children from Roma, Ashkali, Egyptian families born and brought up in Germany have succeeded in integrating themselves in their school, town and circle of friends. They have demonstrated both the will and the ability to make something of their lives, nevertheless their needs and interests are often not taken into consideration”.
The launching event addressed specifically the well-being of these children and succeeded in placing their needs at the core of the ongoing debate in regard to readmission agreements between Western countries and Kosovo.
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