This short film documents the activities of a community Environment Protection project carried out in Roma Mahalla, Mitrovicë/a in 2012. The film shows the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities’ efforts to improve their environment by organizing clean-up days, building a park and educating the community about recycling, garden maintenance and environment protection in general. Workshops and activities for children, women and men were implemented in partnership with Caritas Kosovo, Danish Refugee Council and the RAE LNGO Ardhmeria RAE.
Today, Roma Mahalla is home to around 300 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families and is located in the southern part of Mitrovicë/a town, south of the river Ibar.
Before the conflict around 7000 to 8000 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians lived there. In summer 1999, all inhabitants of Roma Mahalla fled to Northern Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, and Western Europe where they lived in lead-contaminated camps for the following 8 years.
In 2005 a political agreement was reached between the Mitrovicë/a Municipality, OSCE, UNHCR, and UNMIK to allow and support the return to Roma Mahalla. The reconstruction of Roma Mahalla officially began in April 2006 with the foundations being laid for two apartment blocks on municipal land, implemented by NCA, followed by the reconstruction of 54 houses on private land, implemented by the Danish Refugee Council.
With the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR), DRC facilitated the return of 48 families to Roma Mahalla in 2007, most of whom have continued to rebuild their lives there. Roma Mahalla is one of the most challenging return sites in Kosovo, as it is the first significant return project in Mitrovicë/a and the first large-scale urban return of a minority group. DRC’s work with the community in Roma Mahalla continues and today focuses on economic development and community development measures.