Kosovo is currently among the poorest areas in Europe with an unemployment rate of 40% and even up to 50% in certain rural areas. The young state, that declared its independence in 2008, is the subject of different geo-strategic interests and must deal with strong political instability, which is slowing down the regional reconciliation efforts. The collapse of the industry of former Yugoslavia and the transition to a market economy is marginalising certain groups of the population. The most vulnerable, mainly the elderly, families with children and without income, and the Roma community, are experiencing a critical economic situation.
This situation feeds a continuous migration to the cities and, since 1999, to the EU in particular. The population of Kosovo is one of the youngest in Europe. 65% of the population is younger than 30 and many want to leave the country, which makes the Kosovars one of the largest asylum seekers in the EU.
Caritas International has been present in the country since 1999 in order to support the rural population both in the north and the south. Different socio-economic programmes surrounding food security provide small-scale farmers training and micro credit, as well as technical and financial support so that they can improve their lives and diversify their sources of income. These programmes help to curb the exodus from rural areas and promote the co-existence of different communities in Kosovo.