Leaden Bureaucracy

ERMAL META / AFP

A Roma boy near the Trepca mine

Roma in Kosovo are in danger from a deadly combination of a toxic environment and bureaucratic stalemate.

In November 1999, in the aftermath of the war in Kosovo, about 200 Roma, driven from their homes by ethnic Albanian extremists, were placed in refugee camps near Trepca, one of the largest lead-and-zinc mines in Europe. Last June, the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted blood tests on 75 Roma adults and children in the camps; 44 proved to be massively contaminated by lead. The camps have still not been evacuated.

Refugees live "the life of animals,"...

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