International Youth Exchange “Art in Action” Plemetina, August 21st to September 4th
We, young people from Plemetina, together with youth and artists from Kosovo, France and Germany, gathered in Plemetina, share common concerns about youth and аll other inhabitants. Young people from Plemetina have faced the violation of their human rights since they were born; youth from other European countries have came with different experience in order to share knowledge, skills and support their struggle for their rights, among which are:
Exclusion from society
Plemetina’ youth is unique in diversity, and cultural heritage, and are especially talented in arts and creative expression. Plemetina youth, in particular Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian youth, is disadvantaged, discriminated against, and underestimated. Plemetina youth are ready to be the change and take the future of their village into their hands. We are aware of our rights and necessary efforts, which are necessary for creation of just and tolerant society.
Resident of the “social housing buildings” or former “Plemetina IDP camp” live in a “vertical camp”. There are 75 families living in the social housing buildings and barracks. 80% are living from social welfare, 20% do not have any kind of income. Only 5 people are employed; others have social welfare or nothing. 14 families are still living in the old barracks in worse conditions than during the “camp time”.
One of the social housing buildings burned out last New Year’s Eve due to a fire accident. No reparation has been made so far and since the spring floods in May, many residents of this building took refuge in tents outside the building. Will they be forced to face winter in these tents?
Youth have few opportunities to move both for economic reasons, or because of a lack of freedom of movement. Youth from Plemetina are in even worse position, since there is no public transport that would connect them with bigger places, such as Obiliq/Obilic or Prishtinë/Pristina. Most of them belong to minority ethnic groups which still live in fear of discrimination or harm.
In Plemetina, young inhabitants suffer from the two nearby coal power plants ‘Kosovo A and B’ which emit 25 tons of dust and smoke (that consists of carbon dioxide (CO2) sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NO), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons, mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, other toxic heavy metals, and trace amounts of uranium) every hour. Smoke and dust, in addition to unprocessed liquids, have been carelessly released for decades, devastating air, soil and water. The level of pollution emitted by the two plants is 74 times higher than that allowed by European standards. Just one power plant produces approximately fifty trucks of ash every month, remnants of burned coal. It’s not a coincidence that Obiliq/Obilic municipality, which includes Plemetina, has the highest rate of cancer in Kosovo, as well as a high incidence of chronic respiratory diseases. The energy being produced there is not even constantly available for the affected villagers. Sitnica is the most polluted river in the area, though it used to be the richest in fish and other species. Green areas are replaced by trash areas in the village and surroundings, due to the lack or even total absence of communal service.
Even if building a new Kosovo C power plant would lead to faster shutting down Kosovo A – which is now doubtful – it is not adequate. There remains an irreparable negative impact on the local young and future generations.
We remind that all people have rights to clean water, clean air, healthy environment, decent housing, freedom of movement and freedom of speech.
We urge the local, national and international authorities to take action, assume their responsibility and find a solution for the families living in tents in Plemetina camp and avoid one more humanitarian catastrophe.
We call upon local and national authorities to provide Plemetina residents with public transportation.
We call upon local and national authorities to hear the voice of youth from Plemetina and provide them with space, opportunities and support local cultural activities and community building actions.
We call upon local and national authorities to prevent future pollution by thermal power plants, so that youth can live in healthier environment and so that children are raised with their rights respected.. River, soil and air deserve respect and thus environmental policies should be the priority for local and national politics, not just in a paper form, but in practice and deeds.
We take into account that Kosovo is the youngest European country, as well as the poorest and that economic development is important for recovery and that so far, the strategy was relying on the energy sector.
We call upon decision makers to urgently investigate Kosovo potentials of renewable energy resources, which could fulfill energy demands, provide new green jobs and ensure a healthy and safe environment for the young and for future generations. Sustainable development should be driving our society, with full respect of human rights and not only in the name of profit.
We ask for energy efficiency and energy saving in every house, building, factory, street and neighborhood. The less we consume it, less we will need it.
We invite everybody to join us in the actions for a better present and future time for all people in Kosovo, before it’s too late.
Information on pollution:
Documentary film Kingdom of Coal http://vimeo.com/28472377
OSCE Mission in Kosovo