UN Steps In: Requests Macedonia Rehouse Evicted Romani Women

08 November 2016

Budapest, Skopje, 8 November 2016: The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) have told the Macedonian government to provide emergency housing and reproductive care for two pregnant Romani women made homeless by Macedonian authorities over the summer. The committee responded to a request made by the ERRC on behalf of the women.

In an interview with the ERRC, one of the women said:

“This is my first pregnancy. I am expecting my baby in three months from now but I have no health cover and cannot afford treatments. Before at least we had a house and there was a water pump, now it is very difficult since we are outside and the weather is very cold, especially at night.”

The women were evicted on 1 August from the Poligon settlement in Skopje which had existed in Macedonia’s capital for nine years. They were evicted without due process or consultation, and in violation of Macedonia’s international obligations to Roma inclusion. The eviction left the residents on the streets during flooding, and without access to running water or electricity. With temperatures dropping and weather conditions becoming worse, these pregnant women who are in their teens are extremely vulnerable, and are faced with the prospect of spending their final trimester in freezing tents and makeshift shelters on the roadside. The authorities made no real attempts to provide housing to the people evicted. Some were offered space in a shelter that is already over capacity, whilst others, including these two women, were offered nothing at all, as they – like many other Roma in Macedonia –lack identity documents.

This request from CEDAW reinforces the ERRC’s call for emergency accommodation whilst other Roma from the settlement continue to fight against their forced eviction before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Last month, 53 Roma from the site took a stand against this forced eviction in the ECHR with the support of an emergency request from the ERRC. The Court sent urgent notification to the Macedonian government to respond to the application challenging this illegal forced eviction.

The ERRC welcomes the Committee’s swift response, and will be watching carefully to see if the Macedonian authorities act on it. The ERRC will also continue representing the women before the Committee, pushing for recognition of their right to reproductive healthcare, their right to suitable conditions for having and raising their children, and their right to be free from discrimination.

“Forced evictions of Roma are a crisis, and make no mistake, it is a racist crisis”, said Đorđe Jovanović, ERRC President. “Roma have been pushed to living on the margins and then are pushed even further. This case shows the real-life consequences for pregnant women and their families. I am glad that the UN Committee takes this seriously. But the Macedonian authorities should also know that we are serious. Every day they do not act, they make their own failures worse, and we will not stop until we secure justice for these women and the rest of the community”.

This Press Release is also available in Macedonian (Македонски).

For more information contact:

Jonathan Lee
Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre
jonathan.lee@errc.org
+36 30 500 2118

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