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Marika Dee | Not my Country

KOSOVO – April, 2011. Leposavic camp in northern Kosovo used to be a storage for tanks of the Yugoslav army. Now it houses Roma families who were internally displaced in the war. Upon their return from Germany, the Hasani family had nowhere to stay and now lives with stepfamily in a small unit.

In recent years, several thousands of people, many belonging to the Roma and related communities such as Ashkali and Egyptians, have been forcibly returned to Kosovo by Western European countries. Germany is one of the countries expelling Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families that have been living there long time, often fifteen years or more. In Germany, the families had a “toleration status” called “Duldung”, meaning they had no secure right to stay. The deportations take place in the framework of a “readmission agreement” that Germany, as well as other European Union member states, concluded with Kosovo. Kosovo was pressured into accepting this agreement as a stepping stone to visa liberalisation with the European Union. However, the country does not have the economic structure nor a secure and stable social environment to receive these families. The deportations were heavily criticized by UNICEF, the Council of Europe and several NGOs. In spite of this, in accordance with a German decision of 2009, another 12 000 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian persons will be returned to Kosovo in the coming years, half of them children.

Most of the deported children were not only brought up in Germany but were born there as well. They feel German. Prior to deportation most children never set foot in Kosovo and speak German only. Those who do speak some Albanian or Serbian often know the languages insufficiently to follow teaching. Although the whole family suffers severely from the deportation, children are particularly affected. Their whole life is in turmoil once Germany decides they no longer belong there. The children feel uprooted and suffer from a loss of identity. The families’ hopes and dreams are shattered. They face a bleak future.
In Kosovo, the children and their parents fall into a marginal existence. The families live in abject poverty with almost no income opportunities. Housing is cramped, unhealthy and precarious. Families live in constant fear to become homeless. Some returned families even live in terrible conditions in camps for internally displaced persons. Furthermore, numerous families don’t feel secure in Kosovo. They feel intimidated and are exposed to discrimination by both the Albanian majority and the Serbian minority.
Access to education is problematic. Three out of four children are not able to stay in school because of poverty, language barriers, discrimination and lack of the necessary documents. Many of the children don’t have civil documents for Kosovo, which blocks even more their access to education, welfare and medical services.
While in Germany the children went to school and had a social life, in Kosovo they are mostly confined to the house. Socially excluded, they only have their families to fall back on.
This photo essay documents the life of a few deported families that now live on the margins of Kosovo society.

KOSOVO – October, 2011. The Rexhepi family sit in the only heated room in their house in Midvec.

KOSOVO – April, 2011. Suzana Jahitovic and her son Mevruz in the kitchen of their home in Osterode camp in northern Mitrovica. Before being expelled in 2005, the Jahitovic family lived for sixteen years in Germany.

KOSOVO – October, 2011. Outside Shyhrete Berisha’s house in the very poor Koloni neighbourhood in Gjakova.

KOSOVO – May, 2011. Shemsi Miftari communicates with his son Mohammed, who like his older sister Zahide is deaf and mute. In Germany the two disabled children attended a special school, but in Kosovo there is no such school near Fushe Kosovo where they live. The only specialized school is far away in Prizren and the family can’t pay the daily transport or the accomodation costs in Prizren. Therefore Mohammed and Zahide no longer go to school.

KOSOVO – October, 2011. Nermina takes a nap in her home in Fushe Kosovo. Seventeen-year-old Nermina was born in Germany and lived there her whole life before being expelled in 2010. She wanted to be a nurse but can’t continue her education in Kosovo.

KOSOVO – Pay, 2011. The damp basement room in the mahalla Botes/Shtatore in Peja, where the five members of the Haxhija family live.

KOSOVO – May, 2011. Documents issued by the German government authorizing a one-way journey to Kosovo for Sedat and Nasmija Hasani. Both boys were born in Germany and consider it their home country.

KOSOVO – May, 2011. Xhavit Haxhija and his youngest son Petrit. Thirteen-year-old Petrit plays computer games on his old computer. The family occupies a damp basement room in the mahalla Botes/Shtatore in Peja.

KOSOVO – October, 2011. Emine, Besim and their son Ilir outside their home in Fushe Kosovo. The house belongs to Emine’s brother who lives in Switzerland. Before being expelled in 2010, the Hajolli family lived fifteen years in Germany.

KOSOVO – April, 2011. Mevruz Jahitovic, in the hallway of the building in Osterode camp in northern Mitrovica where he lives with his family. The living conditions in the camp are catastrophic. The camp was built for internally displaced persons on highly polluted ground, causing lead intoxication to the inhabitants.

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One Response to Marika Dee | Not my Country

  1. Marie Christine EGGER 28 August 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    Mais… C’est de l’epuration ethnique! L’Allemagne echange des ” allemands roms” contre des Kosovars albanais, ou serbes, plus faciles a fondre dans une societe blanche de peau un peu matinee de travailleurs turcs… Est il legal que l’Europe du Nord choisisse l’aspect de ses citoyens? Et precipite ses habitants indesires dans des conditions de vie ignobles en utilisant le Kosovo comme recipient, au lieu de preparer un meilleur avenir pour les rroms comme pour les autres? Je suis ecoeuree… Est ce assez largement denonce?

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