The authorities in Serbia's capital Belgrade are preparing to carry out the forced eviction of a Roma community, living in an informal settlement in an area known as Belvil. At least 300 homes will be demolished to make way for an access road for a planned new bridge over the River Sava. The project is supported financially by the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The eviction of Belvil settlement was announced by the Belgrade's Deputy Mayor on 30 March 2010. The eviction was due to take place in April, but was put on hold after appeals made by local and international organizations, including by Amnesty International.
According to information received by Amnesty International, the City of Belgrade authorities are now drawing up a Resettlement Action Plan for the residents of Belvil. However, the Roma people living in Belvil remain confused and scared. They have not been informed by the authorities about the date of the eviction. Nor have they been consulted about the Resettlement Action Plan, or about alternative accommodation options.
Representatives of the city visited the site in June and told the residents that they should not move before an eviction date and relocation plan are announced. However, on 29 June 2010, with no advance warning, a bulldozer and some workmen appeared at the site, accompanied by the representatives of the city authorities. They refused to identify themselves when approached by the residents of the settlement. No work was carried out that day, but the incident only increased the feelings of insecurity and anxiety within the community.
Image: Smiljana and her granddaughter live in Belvil, a Roma settlement, Belgrade, Serbia, 28 February 2010. © Amnesty International