Seven years ago, around 100 Roma people in central Romania were forcibly evicted from their homes in the town of Miercurea Ciuc. Most of them were resettled by the authorities on the outskirts of the town next to a sewage treatment plant. Around 75 of them are still living there, in unsanitary conditions in metal cabins and shacks. Some chose to move to a garbage dump a couple of kilometres away, rather than the sewage plant. The Roma were told that the move was temporary, but nearly seven years later, the local authorities have no plan to relocate them to adequate housing.
"It is their right, to find it [another space]. They are not obliged to stay there… [T]he Miercurea Ciuc City Hall does not have the possibility to offer a home for everyone [...] They stay there. They have a roof. […] They had a first chance; they received a home that other citizens have not received. The city hall cannot provide another."
Vice Mayor of Miercurea Ciuc, as reported by newspaper Informaţia Harghitei on 19 April 2011
In 2004, the Romani families were forcibly evicted from their municipal-owned home on Pictor Nagy Imre Street, where they had been living since the 1970s. The authorities had not repaired the property for many years and had told the families that they were being evicted for their own safety and that the building was to be demolished. Most of them were resettled on the outskirts of the town at the end of Primaverii Street, next to the sewage treatment plant. No attempt was made by the authorities to explore with the families possible alternatives to the eviction, or alternative relocation sites, in violation of international safeguards on evictions.
Now living on the fringes of the city, the families are socially excluded and their living conditions are inhumane. The metal cabins are overcrowded and provide no protection from damp, cold, heat and rain. The sanitation facilities are woefully inadequate, with only four toilet cubicles for 75 people and one tap for drinking water.
Romanian law stipulates that people should not live within 300 metres of potential toxic hazards, but the Romani families are living well within this danger zone. The authorities have done nothing to investigate the potential danger of living so close to the sewage plant. The stench of human excreta permeates the air around the cabins and shacks. Many Roma living there spoke of the negative impact the smell has on their daily lives and their fears that it is hazardous to the health of the whole community.
“The smell, sometimes you can smell it over the city as well. That is why it says on that sign ‘Infected area’, but they don’t care about it. They say, you are Roma, you die there.”
Regina, May 2009