Human rights organizations are demanding the competent republic and city authorities to urgently undertake measures to provide a minimum standard of decent housing conditions for Roma evicted from the informal settlement Belvil to Nis.
To recall, on 26 April 2012, the City Administration of the City of Belgrade evicted about a thousand of Roma from the informal settlement Belvil. Internally displaced families from Kosovo and those with permanent residence registered in Belgrade have been accommodated in container settlements on the outskirts of Belgrade. On the other hand, families with permanent residence registered in cities throughout Serbia have been returned there. Four Roma families with seven children have been accommodated in the abandoned warehouse in Nis with no access to water and electric power, where hygienic and living conditions are below the minimum standards required to ensure dignified life. Over the past period, human rights organizations from Nis have been trying to affect the solution of the problems faced by Roma accommodated in the warehouse by providing direct assistance and meeting representatives of government authorities. However, even after more than seventy five days, city authorities of Nis and republic bodies failed to undertake measures to ensure elementary living conditions – access to potable water, electric power and sanitation. Extremely bad living conditions in the abandoned warehouse are additionally worsened by high temperatures and adverse weather conditions.
Gross negligence of the needs of the most vulnerable citizens of the Republic of Serbia once again points to deeply rooted neglect and marginalization of Roma. Moreover, authorities are strongly contributing to this negligence and inobservance of human rights standards on the right to adequate housing. Obligations related to respect for human rights stated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are clear – residents evicted from the informal settlement must be provided with an adequate alternative accommodation which, among others, includes the sustainable access to safe potable water, electric power for cooking, heating, lighting and sanitation.
Due to the above stated, we are once again calling on authorities to take urgent measures in order to ensure elementary standard of decent housing conditions for Roma accommodated in the abandoned warehouse in Nis i.e. the resettlement from the abandoned warehouse to adequate and decent alternative accommodation with sustainable access to potable water, electric power and sanitation.
Organizations that signed the statement:
1. Platform for the right to adequate housing
2. European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC)
Platform for the right to adequate housing consists of: Praxis, Minority Rights Centre, Regional Centre for Minorities, CHRIS – Network of the Committees for Human Rights in Serbia, Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM and Novi Sad Humanitarian Centre.