Inadequate Accommodation Provided to Kosovo Romani Refugees after Camp Destroyed by Fire in Serbia

10 May 2003

On November 5, 2002, the ERRC, in partnership with the Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation Minority Rights Center (MRC), visited the site of the former Salvatore refugee camp for Kosovo Roma at Bujanovac in southern Serbia. On October 29, 2002, a fire destroyed the twenty-five tents that comprised the camp within ten minutes, according to Mr Ersad Ćamil, a 50-year-old Romani man who had been living in the camp since 1999. Mr Nazif Mamutović of the Party for Romani Unity - Bujanovac told the ERRC/MRC that one hundred and fifty internally displaced Kosovo Roma (IDPs) had been living in the camp. All of the belongings of the Romani IDP's were reportedly destroyed in the fire. Mr Mamutović reportedly attempted to have twenty-seven Roma from the camp added to the list of refugees that receive aid from the Serbian Refugee Commissariat, but was refused. Mr Mamutović further stated that the UNHCR did not want to approve new tents for the IDPs, but instead they had been offered temporary accommodation in a school about one hundred metres from the camp. Mr Ćamil told the ERRC/MRC that when the Roma from the camp went to the school to clean it up, four young men, who seemed to be under the influence of narcotics, appeared and threatened to repel them from the school. Mr Ćamil said that he was afraid to return to the school. In any case, according to Mr Faik Demiri, a 45-year-old Romani man from the camp, the school was not fit for human inhabitation. Mr Faik stated, "The roof has holes and the rooms are too big and difficult to warm up. All the windows are broken and it is full of dust and animal excrement." The Roma from the camp had reportedly moved into the school as of early December 2002.



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