Statement concerning adoption and entering into the force of the Decree on the Measures of Social Inclusion of the Beneficiaries of Financial Social Support
Still No Secure Tenure for Roma Evicted from Belvil
Niš, Belgrade, Budapest, april 26, 2014 - Two years after being forcibly evicted from the Belvil settlement in Belgrade, families that were forced to return to Niš still continue to live in very difficult conditions. Three families, including children, are living in an abandoned warehouse without any prospect of decent housing or any security of tenure.
“When they brought us here, there was nothing. I arrived from Belgrade with two bags of clothes, nothing else. I even didn’t have a pillow. I was desperate, I wanted to buy a can of gasoline and set myself on fire” says Sunčica (42) whose daughter was nine months pregnant at the time of eviction and gave birth few days after arriving in Niš.
For the first several months upon their arrival to Niš, the families had no water or electricity. Mostly thanks to pressure from local NGOs on the local authorities, there is now running water and electricity. Still, the rudimentary bathroom is without running hot water. “During the winter months we heat water on wooden stoves, while in summer we put gallons of water to heat in the sun” – says Fetija (65) who is seriously ill and just returned after having an operation. Mould and leaking roofs are still a problem for some; nevertheless, they have worked to transform this abandoned warehouse into a more decent home, without any assistance or support from the local authorities. The residents feel they have been left on their own, leaving them increasingly desperate and leading to deterioration in their mental and physical health.
The biggest immediate concern for residents is the lack of security of tenure. For the past two years they have not been provided with any document regulating their tenancy in this warehouse. “We are not safe; tomorrow anyone can come to move us out. They promised us many things – containers, old houses or other arrangements, but we never got anything. We don’t know for how long we will stay here. We would like to know what will happen to us, to have some kind of certainty” concludes Amet (60) with disappointment, whose wife died several days after the eviction took place.
The European Roma Rights Centre, Praxis and the Regional Centre for Minorities urge state and local authorities to provide adequate and sustainable accommodation in consultation with the families concerned and immediately to provide them with secure tenure. In addition, we appeal to donor organisations to put effort in securing funds for all those remaining families evicted from Belvil who lack adequate housing.