|Roma and Ashkalia Documentation Center|
|Thursday, 18 December 2008|
The Roma and Ashkalia Documentation Center (RADC) is quickly becoming a focal point, information resource, and respected advocate for these minority communities in Kosovo. The RADC started at the end of June 2004. The OSCE Mission in Kosovo and ODIHR (the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE, Warsaw) asked Balkan Sunflowers to begin the RADC project, with the direction to help it become an independent NGO.
RADC became independent in 2005. Balkan Sunflowers continues to support the RADC occasionally in an advisory capacity.
Since its inception the RADC has undertaken a number of initiatives:
In preparation for the 2005 elections for the Assembly of Kosovo, the RADC worked with the Central Election Commission to translate election information into Romani language, and to get television and radio messages onto stations used by the Roma and Ashkalia populations. A number of meetings, a debate, and distribution of literature all contributed to getting information on the elections to the people.
The RADC also organized an exhibition of art by Roma and Ashkalia artists in the halls of the Assembly of Kosovo. This very public venue helped bring the attention of legislators and other members of the government positively to these communities.
In 2005-2006, the RADC became quite involved in issues relating to IDP camps in Mitrovica; the camps became a matter of international concern because of the presence of toxic lead in the camps' environment and the resulting damage to the health of residents, particularly the children. The RADC opened a sub-office in Mitrovica, including a Balkan Sunflowers international volunteer on its staff, to serve the camp residents.
In 2007, the RADC cooperated with the NGOs Civil Rights Project Kosovo and the Association For Legal Aid For Women "Norma", and UNHCR on a major Kosovo-wide effort to significantly increase documentation and registration of members of the Roma, Ashkalia and Egyptian minority communities. This project is continuing in 2008.