Kosovo’s police detained some 40 Roma children for begging on the streets of Pristina at the weekend and sent them back to Albania, officials said.
Thousands of Roma, including children and teenagers, have moved from Albania to Kosovo since the end of the 1998-99 war, many eking out a living on the streets of Pristina through begging, selling cigarettes, chewing gum and peanuts, or washing car windows at traffic lights.
Albanian officials told local media that Roma from the cities of Fieri, Fushe-kruja, Elbasani, Tirana, Berati and Shokdra first travel to industrial areas of Kukes to beg, using the city as a pit-stop to get to Pristina.
Fatos Ahmati, a border official at the Morin-Vermice crossing point where the transfer was made, said that the 40 children were between the ages of 7-15, and had been detained after suspicious activity and drug dealing.
Many did not possess any identification or documents at all, since most Roma cross into Kosovo through fields, not official border posts.