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Government placed Roma refugees from Kosovo next to the country's largest landfill, Montenegro

Roma had fled the Kosovo conflict in 1999 and became refugees in Podgorica but Montenegrin government placed them to live in barracks surrounded by a landfill for 19 years.


Konik was the largest refugee camp situated near a garbage dump on the outskirts of Podgorica in Montenegro,  where Montenegrin government placed more than 2,000 Roma  in deteriorating conditions  due to the 1999 war in Kosovo. The Roma refugees from Kosovo were placed on the Konik surrounded by the "Livade" landfill (input of 65 000 tonnes/year average) for 19 years - since the 1999 and until the end of 2018  [1] [2] [3] [4]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Government placed Roma refugees from Kosovo next to the country's largest landfill, Montenegro
State or province:Ćemovsko polje
Location of conflict:Podgorica
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

To solve the housing issues of the Roma in Konik camp surounded by a landfill, the European Union financed 48 apartments in 2015, through the “Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance” (IPA) funds. The Regional Housing Programme provided additional 120 apartments in November 2017. A further apartments for 51 families have been built in December 2018, thus enabling the "closure" of the Camp [3]. However, the new apartment blocks remain on the same place- in an isolated suburb settlement outside the city and close to a landfill [3].

Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:2000
Start of the conflict:01/01/1999
End of the conflict:31/12/2018
Relevant government actors:Deputy Mayor of Podgorica
European Union “Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance” (IPA) funds
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Help in Montenegro, Aid for Roma and Sinti
Open Democracy
World Health Organisation (WHO)
Care international (CARE)
Coordinating Committee for Voluntary Service (COSV)
European Community Monitoring Mission (ECMM)
International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC)
Intersos (INTERSOS )
Malteser Hilfsdienst (MHD)
Pharmaciens Sans Frontiers (PSF)
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF)
World Vision International (WVI)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Fires, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Help in Montenegro, Aid for Roma and Sinti and the
Open Democracy warned for many years about the discriminated, marginalised and precarious conditions the Roma refugees from Kosovo have been living in Podgorica. However, it took 19 years for the Montenegrin government to develop any alternative, and this was to build block apartments for all the families but at the same place: on the former Konik camp surrounded by a landfill on outskirts of Podgorica.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the conditions in the camp, the refugees were reported to be stoo scared to complain [5]. Aftae 2018, the case is understood as closed, since all families have been provided with new apartments in December 2018, damages due to 19 years of environmental injustices and discriminations are still reflected on the fact that the Roma remain living on the outskirts of the Podgorica town close to a landfill.
Sources & Materials

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[1] The Guardian 2009: Home is a stinking rubbish tip for Kosovo's forgotten refugees
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[2] Nick St.Oegger 2015: Konik Refugee Camp: Where is Home?
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[3] Regional Housing Programme 2018: Konik Camp in Montenegro now officially closed – remaining 51 families move to new homes
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[4] European Environmental Agency: Municipal waste management Montenegro Podgorica
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[5] Too scared to complain.
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[5] Montenegro's Roma camp shame. Unable to work and scared to go outside; life inside Europe's biggest refugee camp. Aljazeera. 20 Jun 2009. Too scared to complain. Report from "Save the Children"
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Meta information
Contributor:Ksenija Hanacek ICTA-UAB
Last update21/09/2019
Conflict ID:4733
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