Roma in Kosovo
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Roma in Kosovo, polylingual Roma (Serbian and Albanian speaking) and Albanian Roma (Albanian speaking, Muslim) who self-identify as Ashkali or Balkan Egyptians (Gjupci). The Serbian Roma were targeted by Kosovo Albanians (Kosovo Liberation Army) with the Serbs during the Kosovo War as being allied with Serbs and Serbian national interests. The Albanian Roma mostly sided with Albanians and fought in the Kosovo Liberation Army but many were targeted after the Kosovo War.
Roma in Kosovo are much depleted from their former numbers, and have been in both stationary and nomadic residence there since the 15th century.
Kosovo Liberation Army (Kosovo Albanians) expelled 50,000 Roma from Kosovo, forcing them to take refuge in central Serbia, but many of them returned to Kosovo.In 2011 there were 36,694 Roma,Ashkali and Egyptians living in Kosovo,or around 2% of the population.
As in other parts of the Balkans, the denomination of Roma has always been subject to outside pressure. In the official census, the labels Roma and (Kosovo) Egyptians were used.
After the war and encouraged by the international community, the label Roma, Ashkali and Kosovo Egyptians and its abbreviation RAE became more common. Whereas the Ashkali and Kosovo Egyptians maintain their distinct origin, this is sometimes contested by Kosovo Roma who claim that all three groups are actually Roma subgroups.
While all the three groups claim ethnic differences between them, they frequently intermarry. Roma weddings to non-Roma (Gadje, outsiders) is extremely rare. Egyptians, Roma and Ashkalija however do not classify one another as Gadje.
Roma support many of the political parties in Kosovo, depending on their grouping faith, and wish to integrate. Many also support the specific Roma parties, of which there are two, the Ashkali and the Roma groupings, while there are none yet specifically for the Egyptian grouping.
They have been subject to nativisation and assimilation, with many having Albanian names depending on the power profile of the day. Most also have their own naming system for use among their own people.
Roma in Kosovo, like Serbs and other minorities, today live in constant fear of further ethnic unrest. Roma unhoused in North Kosovo are today housed in lead-infested camps in North Kosovska Mitrovca.
There is ongoing campaign for rehousing and proper health provisions for the families affected, and a fatality estimate ranges from 27 to 81.
In common with Roma the world over, formal education is of a poor standard, especially among women due both to native beliefs that formal education is unnecessary, and to discrimination in education in the formal schools who are ill equipped for the needs of the Roma children.
Serbianising and Albanianising also lead to the Roma sliding from the educational mainstream.
Third level is not attained by the majority of Rom, and of those who do, they are mostly only half Romany, with there being Serb, Turk or Albanian heritage too.
Kosovska Mitrovica camps
- See also Viewpoint (Council of Europe, Commissioner for Human Rights): European migration policies discriminate against Roma people by Thomas Hammarberg, 22/02/10
- Who we Were, Who we Are: Kosovo Roma Oral History Collection. The most comprehensive collection of information on Kosovo's Roma in existence. (English)