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News 08 Apr 15

Belgrade Slammed for Not Rehousing Evicted Roma

Almost 1,000 Roma who were forcibly evicted by the Belgrade authorities in April 2012 have not been properly resettled even though Serbia was given EU funds to do so, Amnesty International said.

BIRN
Belgrade
The eviction in April 2012. Photo: Beta.

Rights group Amnesty International said in a new report published on Wednesday that three years after the forced eviction of more than 200 Roma families from the Belville settlement in Belgrade, the city authorities have failed to use 3.6 million euro in European Commission funds to adequately rehouse them.

Amnesty slammed what it called “a toxic combination of bureaucratic incompetence, inertia and discrimination”.

It said the majority of those evicted were now living in squalid conditions in metal containers, cut off from social services.

“A flagship EC-funded project intended to demonstrate how resettlements could be carried out in accordance with international human rights standards has been sunk by a catalogue of failures by the City of Belgrade,” said Gauri van Gulik, Deputy Director of Europe and Central Asia for Amnesty International.

The eviction of the Roma from the informal Belville settlement in the New Belgrade area was part of an operation to clean up the city. The families were only informed they were to be evicted two days beforehand.

Former Belgrade mayor Dragan Djilas, who was present at the eviction, said at the time that the authorities wanted to improve conditions both for the Roma and their neighbours.

“This is a question of law and respect of the rules in Belgrade and anyone who does not comply will be penalised,” Djilas said.

But Amnesty said that afterwards, the city authorities failed to find suitable sites for housing the Roma and or to engage in genuine consultation with the families in order to complete their resettlement by February 2015 as promised.

“To be forced from your home is a traumatic experience in itself but to be placed in inadequate segregated containers and other inadequate houses for years on end has had a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of an already persecuted minority,” said van Gulik.

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