Rights Groups Slam Disastrous Housing Conditions for Roma Forcibly Evicted from Belvil

13 July 2012

Budapest, Nis, Belgrade, 13 July 2012: Human rights organisations are demanding that Serbian authorities urgently act to provide a minimum standard of decent housing conditions for Roma evicted from the informal settlement of Belvil to Nis.

On 26 April 2012, the City Administration of the City of Belgrade evicted approximately 1000 Roma from the informal settlement of Belvil. Internally displaced families from Kosovo and those with permanent residences registered in Belgrade were accommodated in container settlements on the outskirts of Belgrade. Families with a permanent residence registered in other cities throughout Serbia were returned there. Four Roma families with seven children were sent back to Nis, where they were accommodated in an abandoned warehouse. Living conditions and hygiene are well below the minimum standards required to ensure dignified life, with no access to water or electric power. Human rights organisations from Nis have been trying to find solutions for these Roma by providing direct assistance and meeting with representatives of government authorities. However, after more than two months, the city authorities of Nis and national bodies have failed to take measures to ensure basic living conditions, including access to drinking water, electric power and sanitation. The extremely bad living conditions in the abandoned warehouse have been made even worse by high temperatures and adverse weather conditions.

This gross negligence of the needs of the most vulnerable citizens of the Republic of Serbia once again points to a deeply rooted neglect and marginalisation of Roma. Authorities are strongly contributing to this negligence and failing to observe human rights standards on the right to adequate housing. Obligations related to respect for human rights stated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are clear – residents evicted from the informal settlement must be provided with adequate alternative accommodation including sustainable access to safe drinking water, electric power for cooking, heating, lighting and sanitation.

The human rights organisations are calling on the competent city and republic authorities to take urgent measures to ensure a basic standard of decent housing conditions for Roma accommodated in the abandoned warehouse in Nis. This means resettlement to adequate and decent alternative accommodation, with sustainable access to drinking water, electric power and sanitation.

The NGOS calling for change are part of the Platform for the Right to Adequate Housing, a coalition working on housing rights in Serbia. The Platform consists of Praxis, the Minority Rights Center, the European Roma Rights Centre, the Regional Centre for Minorities, CHRIS – Network of the Committees for Human Rights in Serbia, Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM and Novi Sad Humanitarian Centre.

This press release is also available in Serbian.

For more information, contact:

Sinan Gökçen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre
sinan.gokcen@errc.org
+36.30.500.1324

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