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Kosovo begins first census in over 10 years

April 5, 2024

The nationwide tally is costing millions, but ethnic tensions could undercut efforts to provide accurate figures.

A census taker (L) asks questions to a man at his home in Pristina on April 5, 2024
Kosovo authorities began carrying out the country's first census on April 5, 2024, in over a decadeImage: Armend Nimani/AFP

Kosovo started its first nationwide census in over a decade on Friday, including a survey of the ethnic Serb minority in the north.

The leading Serb parties, however, called for boycott just hours after Pristina launched the count.

Serb parties reject census 

Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Albin Kurti called on the Serb minority to take part in the census.

"When we make our plans for subsidies, investments, work, education... the health system, we should have the state of the population
reflected in the budget," he said.

However, Kosovo's leading Serb party, Srpska Lista, and three smaller Serb parties rejected his call.

"The Serb people will not participate in the upcoming fake census," it said on social media.

Kosovo's Serbs head across the border to vote

Ethnic Albanians overwhelmingly populate Kosovo, but in the northern stretches, ethnic Serbs are in the majority in several municipalities. 

Serbia does not recognize Kosovo's independence and continues to finance a parallel health, education and social security system for Serbs there. 

Latest attempt to count the population

Kosovo authorities have postponed previous census efforts on multiple occasions.

The last census was conducted by the Kosovo Statistics Agency (ASK) in 2011, when Serbs boycotted the process and the population count ended at 1.8 million people.

The census will tally the number of people residing in the country, family households, their education and employment, as well as the number of locals living abroad.

Surveyors will also ask interviewees about damages suffered during the 1998-1999 war and if they have relatives who died or were tortured at the time.

Census official Hazbije Qeriqi told AFP news agency that ASK provided training for Serb supervisors and enumerators, as well as for other communities. And are hoping for Serb participation this time.

ASK aims to complete the census in six weeks. 4,400 surveyors will conduct in-person interviews from April 5 to May 17.

The cost is estimated at €12 million ($13 million) and is funded by various entities including the EU's statistical office, Eurostat, UN organizations and the World Bank.

ac\lo (AP, AFP)