Serbia: Forced eviction leaves Roma families homeless
Five Roma families have been left homeless in Belgrade after they were forcibly evicted yesterday from privately owned buildings they had been occupying, the latest in a string of such evictions. Some 20 Roma people, including 10 children, were removed from the building on the Serbian capital’s Skadarska Street after a 29 June court order called for them to leave the property and remove all their possessions. A previous eviction attempt on 27 July was postponed while the families and local activists called on the authorities to provide alternative housing, but the authorities have failed to act on the request. “Once again, authorities in Belgrade are uprooting Roma families and pushing them out on the streets without providing adequate alternative housing,” said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme Director. “This unacceptable practice must not continue, and the authorities must do more to seek out adequate housing solutions to ensure Roma families can bring up their children in safety and with dignity.” One woman in the community who fled to Belgrade to avoid domestic violence in southern Serbia is facing being returned there following the recent eviction. After learning of the eviction order, the Serbian NGO Praxis urged the national Ministry of Labour and Social Policy as well as Belgrade city authorities to provide the families with adequate alternative housing before removing them. Amnesty International joined local NGOs in calling for the forced eviction to be stopped, and has previously called on the Serbian government to introduce a law prohibiting the practice. According to a recent Amnesty International report, the Serbian government has repeatedly failed to prevent the forced eviction of Roma families, who often lose their livelihoods and their only possessions in addition their homes.