The Kosovo government had taken a number of early measures to protect citizens from the pandemic, and as the number of confirmed cases gradually grew, new restrictive measures were put in place in order to contain it further.
In the effort to contain the pandemic and ensure that the most vulnerable families within the Roma communities in ROMACTED beneficiaries are not left behind in the COVID-19 response, ROMACTED in Kosovo has been coordinating with the municipal authorities (LA), community action groups (CAGs), and international organisations (IO). The overall assessment in the field has shown that the situation in the Roma neighbourhoods puts Roma communities at the highest risk from COVID-19 infection.
ROMACTED has thus taken a number of interventions to assist Roma communities. Considering that many Roma families (the majority of whom live in poverty) face difficulties in sourcing basic food and hygiene items, ROMACTED, in cooperation with CAGs, and LA, provided food and non-food items to the most vulnerable families (elderly, women, children, and etc.), and masks and gloves as protective items.
In Gracanica/Gracanice and Preoce village nine families received food and non-food packages; four packages in Fushe Kosove/Kosovo Polje were distributed; and in Istog/Istog (Veriq village) four packages were distributed to the most vulnerable families.
In Lipljan/Lipljane, and village Serbobran (Istog/Istok municipality) 200 gloves and 200 masks were distributed to the communities. In Janjeve/Janjevo village (Lipljan/Lipljane municipality) 70 packages of food and non-food items together with 300 gloves and 300 masks were distributed to the most vulnerable Roma (50), Albanian (10), and Croatian (10) families. Noteworthy is that Janjeve/Janjeve has been in quarantine since 19th March when the first person in the village was confirmed as being infected with COVID-19. The movement of people and supplies continues to be limited.
In the effort to bring and amplify the information closer to the community, in coordination with IO, WHO posters with information on preventative measures on COVID-19 in the Albanian, Serbian and Romani languages were distributed by the ROMACTED team in the beneficiaries that were not already covered by informative posters, namely Fushe Kosove/Kosovo Polje, Lipjan/Lipljane and Janjeve/Janjevo village.
Conversely, some beneficiary municipalities have taken protective measures in regards to the Roma communities. The Municipality of Obiliq/Obiliq, in coordination with CAG members, took action in Plemetine/a village. Two social buildings were disinfected and waste dumps were removed from the village. This action was carried out by the local emergency headquarters of the Directorate of Public Emergency Services, and in close cooperation with the municipal deputy mayor, Mr Ibush Mjekiqi.
In the Municipality of Mitrovice/South Mitrovica, the health department donated 90 masks to the families in the Roma mahalla. Upon receiving the masks, CAG members in the Roma mahalla were able to mobilise the community and clean waste materials from the neighbourhood.
In the upcoming weeks, ROMACTED will remain active in monitoring the situation of the most vulnerable in the community and will continue to provide coordinated assistance and reach out to those communities and municipalities where the need is more pressing and urgent.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.