News 19 Sep 13

Montenegro To Launch Refugee Camp Clean-Up

The clean-up of the Konik camp in Podgorica, inhabited by over 1,500 Roma refugees who fled the Kosovo war, marks the anniversary of Montenegro declaring itself an ‘ecological state’.

Milena Milosevic

The operation scheduled for Friday is intended to improve conditions at the Konik camp on the outskirts of the capital which is regarded as one of the city’s environmental black spots.

“The action is aimed at strengthening civic activism, raising ecological awareness, and tackling a location where the large amount of waste… poses a danger to the lives of people living in the area,” said Ervin Spahic, the director of Montenegro’s Environmental Protection Agency, while announcing the event on Tuesday.

The action, organised by the Environmental Protection Agency, the local sanitation service and the campaign group Green Home, will mark the 22nd anniversary of the day when parliament declared Montenegro an ‘ecological state’.

State employees, troops and civil activists will take part in cleaning up the ramshackle camp that is home to the Roma refugees who fled the 1999 Kosovo war.

The situation at Konik deteriorated in July 2012 when part of the camp burned down and more than 800 people lost their homes.

The government provided them with metal containers to live in temporarily until a more long-term solution was found.

Last year, Montenegro and EU officials signed an agreement allocating three million euro to the labour ministry for the construction of 90 apartments and a community centre for the people living in the camp, but work has yet to begin on the project.

Montenegro’s ecological declaration was the first of its kind in the world, but it has often been criticised by local green activists who claim that the aim of meeting the standards outlined in the 1991 document were never met.

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