The Collection of Data for Kosovo’s Population Census Nears, with Penalties for Non-Participants

For six weeks from early April, Kosovo is to hold the second population census since the 1998-99 war, with warnings of penalties for non-participation.

The Director of the Kosovo Agency of Statistics, KAS, Avni Kastrati told the Kallxo Përnime Show on Friday that the population census, the second since the Kosovo war of 1998-99, will last for six weeks. The previous census, which took place in 2011, lasted only two weeks and it did not include a few more data that is now being collected. 

Apart from registering the resident population, the new census will include a separate registration of Kosovo diaspora as well as a registration of property that has been damaged during the war for family households. It is the first time that Kosovo attempts to register its vast diaspora, which is estimated to be roughly about half a million people.

“The census officer is obliged to appear three times at the same location,” Kastrati declared, explaining that  “if they don’t find the citizen there, they will place a letter with a phone number and email stating that ‘when you are free, contact us for an interview’, citizens can schedule the time they want to be interviewed.” 

He added that every citizen is legally obligated to respond to the registration request, adding that, if the citizen will not be home when the census collector appears, it is possible to schedule a time for the interview to be conducted via phone or email. 

“The Kosovo Agency of Statistics, KAS, will refer any citizen who does not report for registration to the court; the penalties range from 200 to 2,000 [euros], depending on the reason for not reporting” Kastrati explained. 

“If someone refuses, the fine is up to 2,000 euros, ” he added.

KAS has also organised a contest for the citizens of Kosovo with an award of up to 10 thousand euros for the citizen who best guesses the population of Kosovo.

On March 8, 2024, KAS started the awareness campaign for the population census. The government of Kosovo has allocated 120 thousand euros for the awareness-raising effort. 

The data collection process, which will last until May 17, 2024, has three registration units: housing, family economy, and family registration.

Citizens will also be asked if they suffered damages during the 1998/99 Kosovo war and if they have a family member in the diaspora. A separate form will be available for registering the diaspora as roughly 30% of real estate that exists in Kosovo is estimated to be owned by diaspora members, thus remaining empty most of the year.

The preliminary registration data will be published 3 months after the field work, and the final data will be published 9 months later.

The census was initially scheduled for 2021, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The census was then meant to start in September 2023, but was delayed by another two months due to procedural delays in the Kosovo Agency of Statistics. In November 2023, Prime Minister Albin Kurti announced that the process was postponed again, and that it would start in spring 2024. This year, 2024 is the absolute deadline to which Kosovo must register the population according to EU standards. 

Kosovo last collected population data in 2011, when the field work was conducted by municipalities, not the Agency of Statistics. 

In the 2011 registration, some municipalities complained that residents were not counted properly, which directly impacted the allocation of the state budget by the national government. Prishtina and Fushë Kosova/Kosova Polje complained in particular as their municipal services are stretched due to big movement of populations from the surroundings.

The biggest problem was with Serbian-majority municipalities, which experienced delays or boycotted the process.

According to Kastrati, “Serbia’s intervention had an impact on the boycotts by municipalities in the northern part of the country”.

“The Serbian community in 2011, in Gracanica and Shtërpcë/Strpce, agreed to registration after a few days of delay, while the north boycotted because Belgrade intervened,” Kastrati elaborated.

Around 2,700 census collectors are involved in this process across Kosovo, along with about 700 supervisors and around 300 municipal employees.

According to the 2011 census, the population of Kosovo was around 1.8 million people. However, the boycott by of Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo – Leposavic, Zubin Potok, Zvecan, and North Mitrovica – meant that demographic data for this part of the country are only estimates and largely unknown.

and 18/03/2024 - 16:23

18 March 2024 - 16:23

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