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Since 2009, Belgrade has forcibly evicted more than 2,500 Roma from 17 informal settlements. Only the luckiest were re-housed – but just how lucky were they?
As the result of the forced evictions, the Belgrade City authorities have formed new settlements for the evicted Roma families on the outskirts of Belgrade.
These people are supposed to have an opportunity to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity, meeting minimum human rights standards.
But what has happened since these evictions? Is there, in fact, any security, peace and dignity for the Roma families now living in their newly provided 16 square meters per 5 member family metal containers?
It looks as if the evicted Roma, now accommodated in their metal containers, have become objects of one form of integration into society – the Belgrade method of integration.
This kind of integration starts with them having to sign a contract for the use of the so-called mobile housing units, which also stipulate a number of obligations.
Article 11 of these contracts notes that if these obligations are breached, it could be seen could be a cause for eviction from the settlement.
As stipulated by the contract, children must go regularly to schools or pre-schools and unemployed family members should accept any jobs that are offered them.
For those not willing to obey these rules, the contract notes: “The City of Belgrade could unilaterally break off the contract without particular explanation.”
There is also an additional, minor requirement that could also result in homelessness, if you are Roma from metal container settlement.
You must behave politely towards representatives of City of Belgrade. Disobey, and you are out of the “mobile housing unit”.
Exactly what “behaving politely towards representatives of City of Belgrade” involves remains unclear.
Needless to say, the representatives of City of Belgrade do not have any such obligations imposed on them in these contracts; it is one-sided obligation, only for the Roma.
This threat stands over the heads of all the new inhabitants of metal container settlements, meaning that they could be subject to a new eviction at some later date.
Then everything starts over, presumably.
Danilo Curcic is a legal Analyst for the NGO Praxis.
While the EU accession process has not affected the media’s existential struggle for survival one way or the other, they have made respect for human and minority rights more mainstream.