Local Authorities Provide Inadequate Housing to Roma in Croatia
10 July 2002
The ordeal of nine Romani families from the Paromlinska Street settlement in the centre of the Croatian capital of Zagreb continues. The Romani families are currently housed in state-owned buildings slated for demolition. Since May 2001, Zagreb city authorities proposed to move the Roma to Kozari put, an area of the city with a predominantly Romani population. However, after the first proposed location in Kozari put was deemed too small and inappropriate, and after non-Romani inhabitants refused the city's next proposal to accommodate the Roma in containers in the municipality of Pešćenica in September 2001, in late 2001, the city finally decided to house the Paro-mlinska Roma in containers in another location in Kozari put. However, according to the Zagreb-based Union of Roma of the City of Zagreb and Zagreb County (Udruga Roma grada Zagreba i Zagrebačke županije – The Union), the fifteencontainers proposed by the municipality as the new housing units in Kozari put are highly inadequate. The containers have reportedly already been used and are small, each of the containers envisaged for housing (three will serve as joint sanitary units) comprising only 9 square metres. This space is highly inadequate due to the fact that, of the Romani families slated to move in, the smallest family contains at least seven members. The containers reportedly have small windows that provide insufficient natural light and doors directly facing a street, which is considered to be a safety hazard for the small children who would live there. According to ERRC sources, Roma currently dwelling in Kozari put do not object to the new families moving in, yet they have called for the creation of living conditions more humane than those envisioned in the current proposal. A number of ethnic Croats allegedly oppose moving more Roma into the neighbourhood.
The Roma in the Paromlinska Street settlement currently live in deplorable housing conditions, in an environment infested by rodents and full of garbage, and subject to racist attacks by skinheads. The demolition of these dwellings is reportedly imminent. According to local sources, the Paromlinska Roma have refused to move, as they consider life in containers "impossible". As of July 16, 2002, according to The Union, no Roma had been moved to the containers.
A second group of Roma in Zagreb is also facing possible eviction: On May 4, 2002, the Union reported to the ERRC that an employee of the City of Zagreb conducted a census of the Roma in the Plinsko Naselje settlement in mid-April 2002. While conducting the census, the city employees informed some of the Roma in the settlement that some would be moved to containers on an as yet unspecified location. The Roma of Plinsko Naselje fear that the location might also be Kozari put, and that the city authorities might thus create a ghetto for the Zagreb Roma.
(Association of Young Roma in Croatia, ERRC, Udruga Roma grada Zagreba i Zagrebačke županije)