The VICE Guide to Travel

The VICE Guide to the Balkans - Part 4

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Gypsies draw the short end of the stick wherever they live in Europe, and in Kosovo that stick is already kind of short and shitty to begin with. In the late 90s, while the Serbs and Albanians were bitching to the international community about how ethnically cleansed they were being from the region, BOTH sides were trying to drive the local Gypsy population out of town. Usually through such time-honored pressure tactics as burning down their houses and murdering the older members of their families. As the war flared and the anti-Gypsy atrocities escalated, the UN stepped in and took the only acceptable course of action: Build a refugee shelter for the Gypsies on an old dumping ground for industrial waste, then leave them there until all their children have lead poisoning.

In this stop on our trip we met with Paul Polansky, an American activist for gypsy rights who was brought to Kosovo by the UN to oversee their refugee camps, but who turned against them when he realized their negligence was basically doing the Serbs' and Albanians' job for them. Their genocide job, we mean.