In Croatia, non-Roma protest municipal plans to move Roma into their settlement
07 November 2001
A proposal by authorities in the city of Zagreb to move nine Romani families from Paromlinska Street to the Pescenica municipality of Zagreb has met with strong resistance by local non-Roma, including local authorities, who refuse to accept Roma in their neighbourhood. According to the Zagreb-based Union of Roma of the City of Zagreb and Zagreb County (Udruga Roma grada Zagreba i Zagrebacke zupanije), nine Romani families slated to be moved to Pescenica currently live in Paromlinska Street, in the city centre, in buildings designated for demolition, as the local authorities claim that they are beyond repair. The living conditions of Roma in Paromlinska Street are harsh: In June, a piece of ceiling reportedly fell off in one of the dilapidated buildings, nearly falling on a four-month-old Romani baby, Kasandra Dedic, according to the Croatian daily Vecernji list of June 5, 2001. This flat, which had no bathroom facilities and no power supply, was home to thirteen members of the Dedic and Masic families. Mr Muharem Dedic was quoted in the daily as stating that his children suffered from jaundice, scarlet fever, scabies and bronchitis as a result of their poor housing conditions. There are altogether 56 children in the 9 Romani families to be moved. Mr Dedic also reportedly stated that the courtyard of the building was infested with rats and was full of garbage. The local Roma reportedly also suffer from racist attacks. An 11-year-old Romani girl from the neighbourhood was allegedly attacked by skinheads shortly before the accident in the Dedic home. After the incident, the girl refused to attend school out of fear.
The Union of Roma of the City of Zagreb and Zagreb County, reported that authorities initially wanted to move some of the families to the Kozari Put settlement in Zagreb, an area with predominantly Romani residents. The planned location in Kozari Put proved too small, however, and the plans were subsequently abandoned. The number of families to be relocated then reduced to nine, as only these had registered residence in Paromlinska. This decision caused animosity among the Roma, who have lived in Paromlinska but never officially registered their residence there; some of them had not registered as they had difficulties obtaining Croatian citizenship since the country gained independence in 1991. A new location was subsequently found in the territory of the Pescenica municipality of Zagreb. However, at a September 12, 2001, meeting with the representatives of Zagreb Roma and municipal authorities, some municipal councillors and locals expressed their opposition to the Romani families moving into Pescenica, reportedly stating that Roma "beg, deal in scrap iron; minors drive cars and are dangerous for the environment." As of November 6, 2001, all of the Romani families concerned still resided in the Paromlinska settlement.
(ERRC, Union of Roma of the City of Zagreb and the Zagreb County, Vecernji list)