news 22 Jun 17

Kosovo Landmine Victims Demand Serbia Pay Compensation

Kosovo’s Association of Mine-Injured Civilians asked Serbia to pay compensation to people injured in landmine blasts during and after the war, and called on the Pristina government to raise the issue in Brussels.

Die Morina
Photo illustration: Flickr/Alain Bachellier.

Avni Lubovci, the head of the Association of Mine-Injured Civilians, sent a letter to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday demanding compensation for landmine-related deaths and injuries in Kosovo.

“Our lands being mined by you was the cause of many citizens of Kosovo paying with their life or remaining with serious bodily injuries forever,” Lubovci’s letter to Vucic said.

In the same letter, which Lubovci also sent to Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, he demanded the issue be put on the agenda of the EU-mediated talks between Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels.

“Our institutions are obliged to deal with this issue,” Lubovci told BIRN.

A total of 117 people have lost their lives because of landmines in Kosovo, and 450 others lost limbs, he said.

Lubovci himself lost his leg as the result of a mine explosion 17 years ago.

“Your state has become the reason why we cannot continue life as normal like everyone else. Besides losing our limbs, we have also been unable to work and to secure our survival,” he wrote in his letter to Vucic.

The war in Kosovo ended in 1999, after NATO intervened to end Yugoslavia’s military campaign against the Kosovo Liberation Army, leaving the country contaminated by landmines laid by Belgrade’s forces and cluster munitions used by NATO.

The UN declared in 2001 that Kosovo was mine-free, but deminers are still continuing to clear unexploded ordinance in the country.

Demining charity the Halo Trust says it hopes that all the remaining mines and cluster bomblets can be cleared by 2020.

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