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Site Profiles: Interviewee Areas of Kosovo

Obilic/ Obiliq & Vučitrn/ Vushtrri Municipality: Plemetina Village, Plemetina Camp, Crkvena Vodica and Prilužje
Site Profiles: Plemetina Village & Plemetina Camp | Crkvena Vodica | Prilužje  | Kosovo Polje

Obilic/ Obiliq & Vučitrn/ Vushtrri Municipality : Plemetina Village & Plemetina Camp

Plemetina Village

Plemetina lies 3 KM north of Obilić town.

Security & Transportation

Serbs and Roma lack freedom of movement beyond Plemetina and the immediate minority areas. Security incidents in the village are few, although recently an Albanian, himself insulted by Serbs in the village center, returned later and opened fire with a handgun. There were no injuries. A few Serb and Roma homes were burned after the war.

Serbs and Roma must travel to Obilić town to cash their UNMIK social assistance checks. They have been threatened, and two Roma were threatened by an Albanian with a knife in May 2003. Balkan Sunflowers provides automobile transport and protective accompaniment duties once a month. Other than these morning transports, Obilić town is off-limits to Plemetina Serbs. Those Roma who speak Serbian have less problems, and Ashkalija have returned to the Azotiku neighborhood with few incidents.

Norwegian KFOR dismantled the roadblocks leading to Plemetina Camp & Village in 2002. No serious security incidents within the village/ camp environs have occurred since. The Norwegians implemented mobile checkpoints immediately after the last Serb murders in Obilić town.

UNMIK offers bus transports several times per week from Plemetina to Gracanica.

The Kosovo Polje- Mitrovica/ Zvečan train runs twice a day; it stops in Plemetina Village . From Zvečan, connections are made to Serbia proper and Belgrade . The train is protected by KFOR soldiers on board.

Economy & Infrastructure

Before the war, the Plemetina workforce either worked for KEK or worked the fields. Since 1999 all the KEK employees have been fired and local farmers have lost access to 40-50% of their land. KFOR provided security for farmers to work land near Albanian areas. Many Albanians are illegally cultivating Serb land as their own. Livestock has been stolen from outlying homes. Non-retired KEK employees receive pittances from Serbia, as do KEK pensioners.

Plemetina has one café/ bar (Speedy’s), two large mini-markets, and several prefab metal shacks that sell beer, cigarettes, snacks, and bootleg music. Most goods are purchased in Gracanica for resale. A Rom male cuts hair in his backyard for 30 Dinars a head; he tried to secure a shop in the village’s center but was threatened by the Serbs. A few dozen Roma, and a few Serbs, receive social assistance from UNMIK. A few internationals rent rooms in the village.

A Chess Game in Plemetina: March 2003. Photo by Kieran D'arcy

Electricity is terrible. When the power is on, it is usually too weak to power larger appliances. Water quality is also poor. Phone service must be paid for. UNMIK ordered PTK to reduce overdue bills by half. The majority of Plemetina’s villagers have no phone service, nor can they afford to have it restored.

Many Serb and Roma homes in outlying areas were destroyed after the NATO war’s end. For those that did not actually flee Kosovo after the cessation of hostilities, receiving grants for reconstruction has proven difficult.

Due to the pollution caused by KEK’s Kosovo A & B plants, health problems abound in the immediate population. The snow turns grey after a few hours. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders are common among older residents. Children are born with breathing problems.

Education

Plemetina Village has one primary and one secondary school. Albanian students have been banned by the school director; Albanian children attend school in prefabricated shacks provided by KFOR, on the edge of the school grounds.

Roma

Plemetina Village ’s Roma reside in two Mahalas. The primary Mahala in Plemetina extends from just beyond the village center to the eastern edge. The Mahala is accessible by two wrecked dirt roads. Many Roma homes have only outdoor water access and toilets.

Plemetina’s Roma are a fractured lot, with competing community leaders and the families that support them. One supposed leader attempted to expel an NGO when they refused to hire him as a manager. He also threatened to burn down the homes of those who attempt to utilize the Pax Christie fund.

Most Roma have completed primary school; a minority have completed secondary school. Several Roma are employed by the OSCE, Balkan Sunflowers and other groups. An uncharacteristically high percentage of Plemetina Roma children attend school. Many of them have difficulties in the Serbian language. At least 25 school-age children have never attended school.

Plemetina’s Serbs and Roma used to receive WFP parcels from Children’s Aid Direct. None now do. Other groups have reduced firewood distribution and other winterization policies. The OSCE has appointed local Roma community advocates to represent Plemetina Village and Camp; Balkan Sunflowers runs a Roma resource center that offers remedial education, homework and language assistance, computer classes and other programs; the group formed a boy scout troop and offered Tai Chi classes. A Belgian Group, Pax Christie, has created a community reconstruction fund for Serbs and Roma.

Demographic Information

Approximately 186 Serb families (about 990 individuals; 220 children under 15 years old) and 10 Serb IDP families live in Plemetina

There are between 15 and 20 Albanian families in the village.

Plemetina Village Roma:

 

Families

Individuals

Pre-war

 

 

2001

~87

~395

2003

~91

~410

IDPs

 

~40

Returns 2000-1

 

 

Returns 2002

 

 

Roma under 18 (2001): ~220

Roma under 18 (2002): ~229

Roma over 18 (2002): ~181

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Plemetina Camp

View from the Camp

Plemetina Camp was established in July of 1999, to replace the refugee areas around the Serbian school in Kosovo Polje. Thousands of Ashkalija, and some Roma, congregated at the school in June of 1999. The site was overwhelmed by those fleeing the Kosovo Polje Mahalas; there was not enough security, accommodation or food. Plemetina was established 1-2 KM from Obilić town, in the shadow of the KEK cooling tower.

Security and Transportation

Two Ashkalija and one Serb were recently assaulted by KEK security guards. Occasional violence in the camp occurs due to KPS attempts to arrest a resident. The camp population has blocked the road to Plemetina Village / Prilužje to protest their conditions.

On a positive note, 21 Ashkalija families from the camp recently returned to the Azotiku neighborhood of Obilić town with no significant problems.

Plemetina camp’s inhabitants can access train services from Plemetina Village or Obilić town. Weekly bus transports connect the camp to other minority areas. Most IDPs here, with the exception of Serbs and Roma, speak Albanian fluently, adding to their safety in majority areas.  

Economy & Infrastructure

The camp population is unemployed and unemployable, due to the camp location and the ethnicity of its residents. A few Ashkalija are members of the Kosovo Protection Corps- the demilitarized version of the Kosovo Liberation Army. KPS was forced by UNMIK to demographically reflect Kosovo’s ethnic breakdown. The rest of the camp is solely reliant upon international aid.

This aid impedes return to the point-of-origin communities of camp residents. Camp residents, should they return to Kosovo Polje, would lose a significant amount of food aid and free firewood. Camp residents received better quality food, and more cubic meters of firewood, than did other minority areas. This aid makes the camp residents an object of scorn to many Plemetina Village Roma.

Plemetina Camp was established by UNHCR; the camp has been run by the Italian Consortium of Solidarity, Children’s Aid Direct, and now the Albanian Mother Teresa Society. The camp was absolutely overloaded with NGOs carrying out job training and educational programs. At one time a dozen international organizations carried out programs there. Now the camp has faded in programming popularity; the NGOs have essentially left them. Food aid and NGO activity has acted as an economic impediment to return; especially because the Kosovo Polje Ashkalija are now accepted within KP town.

Education

No primary or secondary schools exist in the camp.

The International Rescue Committee has carried out numerous educational programs for camp children and teens, with lasting effects. IRC’s ultimate goal was to integrate Ashkalija children into Albanian-language Obilić schools; they have done this with nearly 90 children.

As of late 2002, a kindergarten was operating in the camp.

Plemetina Camp- Roma & Ashkalija

 

Families

Individuals

(Roma) 2002

 

44

(Ashkalija) 2002

 

655

A few Serb refugees, expelled from Croatia (the Krajina and other areas) and Bosnia in the early 1990’s, now reside in the Plemetina camp.

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