In Kosovo, the measures taken by governing authorities to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 has mirrored other governments across Europe. However, ensuring such measures don’t negatively impact Kosovo’s non-majority communities has further tested the government’s capacity.
Peaceful Change initiative’s project ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development’ (supported by the UK Government’s Conflict, Security and Stability Fund) has worked through their partner NGO Aktiv, working in Kosovo and Serbia, to establish a Rapid Civic Response Group.
The Group is made up of 22 civil and community activists from across Kosovo representing the Serbian, Albanian, and Gorani communities. It is creating vital channels for the real-time flow of information, thereby facilitating the identification of problems which may otherwise have remained ignored. They include:
Poor information dissemination in non-majority languages
Poor and/or lack of translation in non-majority languages
An increase in security incidents in Serbian communities
Challenges accessing economic-aid
Inadequate and/or lack of institutional response
Aktiv and the Rapid Civic Response Group have taken steps to lobby the Kosovo government and other relevant actors for urgent steps to address these problems. Their approach includes:
Request to improve communication with non-majority communities addressed to the Government of Kosovo
PCi is working in Kosovo and Serbia in partnership with People in Need, Gradjanske Inicijative, Peer Educators Network and Aktiv on a new two-year project, ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development’, funded by the UK government’s Conflict, Security and Stability Fund. The project works with ethnic minorities in Kosovo and Serbia to help increase their awareness of rights and entitlements, engage their municipal authorities, and develop new approaches to partnership in community engagement and service delivery.
Peaceful Change initiative works to amplify local voices, especially those of marginalised groups, in support of equitable development. We worked with our partners Aktiv, Civic Initiatives and Peer Educators Network to ensure non-majority communities in Serbia and Kosovo are better aware of – and able to advocate for – municipal services to which they are entitled.
In response to COVID-19, PCi worked with Aktiv to create a ‘Rapid Response Crisis Group’ (RRCG) to ensure that non-majority communities in Kosovo were receiving equitable access to information that sought to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Despite good intentions and efforts to treat all citizens equally, regardless of their ethnicity, the Kosovo government has experienced a lack of capacity to address the needs of all communities living in Kosovo, as COVID-19 mitigation measures have been introduced. Government institutions have been weakened by the political crisis and the collapse of the government; this has left non-majority communities with a lack of qualitative and timely information, as well as challenges obtaining assistance. Click on the Case Study here
Peaceful Change initiative are working with partners, among others, to ensure non-majority communities in Serbia and Kosovo have better access to information on COVID-19. The goal of the ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development – ALVED’ project is to strengthen the capacity of citizens in Kosovo and Serbia to advocate for an effective and equitable distribution of public services and for a greater inclusion of non-majority communities in local decision making.
The project is funded by the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund of the United Kingdom (CSSF) and implemented by a network of five organisations, including our partner Peer Educators Network (PEN) from Kosovo, who actively work to bring social change through community work led by youth. With their first video-cast published as part of ALVED, PEN is providing information about the effects of the pandemic on mental health, as well as some advice on how to cope with this situation. The video is available in English, Albanian and Serbian language, and was shared through social media by a network of organisations working with diverse groups in Kosovo, including non-majority communities.
As part of the ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development – ALVED’ project, PCi’s partner organisation Aktiv produced a video-cast that discusses language rights in Kosovo. The video-cast analyses how the pandemic crisis has shed light on weak institutions unable to provide a timely translation of information into Serbian at key moments, leaving members of the Serb and other non-majority communities in Kosovo at a disadvantage. The video is available in Serbian, Albanian and English language.