Coronavirus in Kosovo: Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian parties and NGOs pitch in to provide emergency aid
24 March 2020
As the Coronavirus crisis deepens, with added hardship and perils for excluded and impoverished communities, politicians from four parties representing the Ashkali, Egyptian and Roma communities and three NGOs in Kosovo have taken the initiative to provide emergency assistance to avert “a humanitarian catastrophe.”
Kosovo MP Veton Berisha, from the Egyptian Liberal Party, called on the Prime Minister Mr Albin Kurti to take direct action to support the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, as over 90% have no jobs and no incomes to support their families. Berisha followed this plea with an open letter to Kurti calling for immediate action to avert “a humanitarian catastrophe”. The Egyptian Liberal Party reported that “Mr Kurti decided to remain silent on the issue.”
Deciding that inaction was not an option, on March 21, the four political parties and three NGOs set up an Emergency Headquarters in the Municipality of Fushë Kosovë / Kosovo Polje for Ashkali, Egyptian and Roma communities. Work immediately got underway and seven dedicated Headquarters staff pitched in to assist in providing food and hygiene materials, and to raise awareness in the local communities about the risks and how to prevent spread of the virus. Headquarters is coordinating with all the relevant official institutions, organizing the distribution of aid throughout the municipality, and remains on alert as the situation develops.
In a statement, Headquarters stressed its readiness “to cooperate with all NGOs, humanitarian associations, foundations, individuals and businesses.” To avoid duplication and better coordinate vital services to the communities, the message to government and municipal agencies, embassies and international missions was simple: “Do not hesitate to contact us. We welcome cooperation.”