Extreme Harm to Roma Living in Substandard Conditions

29 July 2004

According to the online news source Macedonian Press Agency (MPA) of March 19, 2004, a 5-year-old Romani girl sustained serious burns to her body in a fire in her family's makeshift home in the town of Armenis on the island of Chios in mid-March 2003. The girl was reportedly transferred to Athens' Children's hospital "Paiden" where she was treated for blood poisoning.

Similarly, according to the MPAof March 18, 2004, an 86-year-old Romani woman died in a fire in her shack in the Assos Romani settle-ment in Korinthia.The MPAreported that the fire started in a wood stove.

According to ERRC research, conducted in partnership with the Athens-based Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), earlier, on March 1, 2004, the makeshift shack of Ms Dionisia Panayotopoulou, a Romani activist from the Nea Zoe Romani community of Aspropyrgos near Athens, burned to the ground. The fire was reported to have originated from the wood stove Ms Panayotopoulou's family used for heating. The Nea Zoe Romani community existed for years with-out running water, electricity or any other services, despite repeated promises of such by municipal authorities. As of June 21, 2004, Ms Panayotopoulou's family was living with relatives in a shack in the same area.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to which Greece acceded in 1985, guarantees at Article 11, the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate housing. In its General Comment 4, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights defined the right to adequate housing in terms of seven components, including, "Habitability.Adequate housing must be habitable, in terms of providing the inhabitants with adequate space and pro-tecting them from cold, damp, heat, rain, wind or other threats to health, structural hazards, and disease vec-tors. The physical safety of occu-pants must be guaranteed as well."

(ERRC, GHM, Macedonian Press Agency)

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