Romani Man Burnt in Fire in a Substandard Romani Settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina

29 October 2003

The shack of the Sulejmanović Romani family was completely burnt down in a fire that broke out after 10:00 PM on March 30, 2003, in a Romani settlement in Butmir, near Sarajevo, as reported in the Sarajevo-based national daily newspaper Oslobodjenje of April 1, 2003. Sixty-seven-year-old Mr Mehmed Sulejmanović, who was in his shack at the time of the fire, was saved by his son, Mr Ratko Sulejmanović, who lives in the same settlement. Roma from the settlement managed to stop the spread of the fire from Mr Sulejmanović's shack with the only fire extinguisher that was in the settlement. The fire brigade was called, but they arrived a half an hour later, when the shack had been completely destroyed in the fire. Mr Mehmed Sulejmanović is the only victim of the fire; he was transferred to the Sarajevo Center for Urgent Medicine where he was given first aid and then he was taken to the Plastic Surgery Department for further treatment. The hospital established that Mr Sulejmanović suffered serious burns to 12 percent of his body. The fire was reportedly caused by a burning candle, which ignited the mattress on which Mr Sulej-manović was sleeping. As of September 15, 2003, the ERRC was unaware of any further developments in the case.

ERRC research, conducted in the Romani settlement at Butmir in January 2003, established that there is no electric supply in the settlement and that the Romani inhabitants therefore are forced to use candles for lighting. Additionally, there is no water supply in the settlement. Local Roma complained to Oslobodjenje that if there had been water in the settlement, the fire could have been quickly extinguished. They also expressed their dissatisfaction with the attitude of the Municipality of Ilidža, to which the settlement belongs administratively, and alleged that the authorities have done nothing to assist the Romani community. The ERRC is not aware of any plans by the Ilidža authorities to improve conditions in the settlement since the fire. For more information on the situation of Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina, see the ERRC's Internet website at: www.errc.org.

 (ERRC, Oslobodjenje)

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