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Kosovo Gypsies to receive payments from Swiss Holocaust fund

Gypsies, especially those in Eastern Europe, have been awaiting compensation

(Keystone Archive)

Fifty-eight Gypsies in Kosovo are to finally receive money from a Swiss fund set up to help destitute Holocaust survivors.

The group will each receive 1,620 German marks (SFr1,257) from the Swiss Fund for Needy Victims of the Holocaust. The money is the last of SFr297 million ($177.8 million) that the fund handed out to a total of around 314,000 beneficiaries.

"For the beneficiaries in Kosovo, the modest financial gesture of the fund represents an important material support," the fund said in a statement.

The application from the 58 Gypsies, or Roma, Holocaust survivors in Kosovo was made by the Internationale Romani Union in Berlin in 1998, but the organisation was unable to distribute the money at the time because of the security situation in the Yugoslav province. The payments will now be distributed by a Swiss church aid group.

Some 88 percent of the money in the fund, which was formed in 1997, was intended to aid destitute Jewish survivors of the Nazis, especially those in Eastern Europe who were denied Western assistance during decades of communist rule.

Payments have also been made to survivors in the United States and Israel. The remainder was for non-Jewish survivors, including Gypsies, homosexuals and political opponents of the Nazis.

Swiss banks and industry contributed money to the fund, which is in addition to other efforts to aid victims or return unclaimed bank assets.

It is separate from a $1.25 billion (SFr2.19 billion) fund established in 1998 by Switzerland's two largest banks and intended for holders of dormant wartime accounts and their heirs.

swissinfo with agencies


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