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Police officer Boris Krajnc from the traffic police station in Ljubljana participated between 23 April and 30 September 2008 in the international peacekeeping mission UNMIK in Kosovo in the Regional Operation Support Unit - Priština. After his stint in the peacekeeping mission, he visited the traffic unit of the Kosovo police which is responsible for road traffic safety in the area of Pristina, with the headquarters in Kosovo Polje.

080430 UNMIK priPristinskihPPHe wanted to exchange with his Kosovo colleagues opinions and experience in the area of traffic safety, especially in the area of prevention and protection of school children in road traffic. As part of the visit, he also met the commander of the unit, Skender Krasniqi, and a representative of UNMIK, Clarence Nylund from the USA, who is responsible for monitoring and counselling in the area of road traffic.

Since the area covered by the unit is the most densely populated area in Kosovo (according to estimates, between 600 and 700 thousand people live in Priština and the surroundings alone), there are numerous burning traffic issues. Because of the poor road infrastructure and low level of driving culture, the police must make serious efforts to prevent the situation from deteriorating on a daily basis. In addition, the number of vehicles on Kosovo roads is constantly increasing. Many vehicles are in very poor technical condition because their owners are not able to maintain them regularly because of the low standard of living.

School children are the most endangered group, as the majority of schools do not provide organised transport to schools. Because there are no sidewalks along roads, and traffic signalisation is also deficient, children are highly endangered on their way to and from school. Frequent malfunctions of street lights and traffic lights because of interrupted electricity supply pose an additional danger.

During his visit, Kranjc explained to his colleagues that the Slovenian police had been very active in the area of prevention. In cooperation with the council for prevention and education in road transport, the Slovenian police organises various events and visits of police officers in schools in order to teach children how to behave appropriately in road traffic. They also want to influence parents and consequently improve road traffic safety.

The commander of the Priština traffic police agreed that the education of children on road safety should start at a very early age, adding that the Kosovo police, in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport, was already carrying out such preventive actions, and promotes community policing through a special unit operating within the police force, and that the unit contributes to road traffic safety of children in Kosovo.

At the end of his visit, officer Boris Krajnc donated commander Skender Krasniqi a consignment of reflective strips and items which the Kosovo police officers will distribute to children, especially in rural areas, where they are at most risk. The commander thanked Krajnc for the strips and items and promised that they would be delivered into the right hands. Since the unit operates in areas populated by Albanian, Serbian and Roma people, Krasniqi said he would take care that they were equally distributed among all three nationalities.

Text: Boris Krajnc, UNMIK mission in Kosovo