Monday, May 18, 2009

40,000 people in Kosovo have no regular income

A survey conducted by the United Nations Development Program shows deep poverty in the former Serbian province of Kosovo. The survey finds that 40,000 people have no regular income. The lack of employment could disturb the security of the young nation.

From the SE Times, reporter Besa Beqiri tells us more about the situation in Kosovo.

The government aid totals 45 to 75 euros a month -- much less then what a family needs to make a normal living in the country. According to Kosovo Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Welfare Gjergj Dedaj, there are also over 150,000 retirees who also take pensions -- at an average of 70 euros a month -- from the ministry and have been transformed into a category of poor people.

According to reports from the UNDP and other international organizations, about 37% of the population lives in poverty -- below the line of 1.42 euros a day -- and over 17% lives in extreme poverty -- below the line of 93 euro cents a day.

"Poverty can not be reduced through giving people social assistance alone, the opening of the new jobs would reduce poverty. Let's not transform Kosovo into a social state in which people live with social assistance, let's transform it into a place of work," Dedaj said.

"We have an emergency strategy, which is not enough," he said, adding that the ministry does not have its own official figures for the rate of poverty in Kosovo due to the lack of a census and the lack of a registration for family economies.
Emigration plays a major role in keeping families out of extreme poverty, the minister noted. More than half a million Kosovars work in Western countries and send money home, helping to keep their loved ones afloat financially.

A study last year by the Statistical Office of Kosovo and the World Bank said "migration and remittances have been effective ways for households to protect themselves from falling into poverty". It estimated that one in five Kosovars has at least one relative abroad sending them funding.

Because of the global financial crisis, as well as social changes within Kosovo, the amount of remittances has been decreasing, however.

The UNDP says Kosovo has the highest unemployment rate in the Western Balkans -- around 45% of the working-age population is without a job. It also has an extremely young population, with half of its citizens under the age of 25.

"This means that some 30,000 people join the job market every year with little prospect of employment," the UN organisation says.

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