Amnesty International has urged the Romanian authorities to provide urgent housing assistance to several Roma families made homeless by a forced eviction last week.
Authorities in the city of Cluj, in north-western Romania, forcibly evicted a Roma community on 17 December.
Some of the families have been moved to inadequate housing units, while others are homeless. According to local NGOs and testimonies from local Roma, other Roma communities in Cluj are also at risk of being forcibly evicted.
“This pattern of forced evictions, without adequate consultation, adequate notice or adequate alternative housing, perpetuates segregation and violates Romania’s international obligations,” said Andrea Huber, Europe and Central Asia deputy director at Amnesty International.
"When Roma families are being evicted from their homes against their will, they lose their homes, their possessions, their social contacts, their access to work and state services.”
On 15 December, about 56 families were given two days' notice that all improvised barracks and shacks in their community would be demolished. There was no consultation with the affected community and no feasible alternatives to eviction had been explored.
On 17 December, at around 6am, police arrived and told the community to move their belongings by the end of the day. Subsequently, 40 families were re-housed in new housing units in the outskirts of the city, close to a garbage dump.
Several families have been rendered homeless by the eviction, as they did not receive a room in the housing unit nor other alternative housing. Adults and children reportedly sleep outdoors, while the temperature can reach -10 degrees Celcius at night.
One of the Roma evicted from the Coastei Street community told Amnesty International: “There are people sleeping outside, in the cold. They were not given a room and they want to protect their belongings from being stolen. Sometimes they take their children to sleep in their neighbours houses, but otherwise they stay in the cold”.
Meanwhile, access to work opportunities and public services is difficult, as the closest bus stop is approximately 4 km away. This makes it difficult for the children to attend school.
Amnesty International has urged Cluj city authorities to ensure that any evictions are carried out only as a last resort and in full compliance with international human rights standards.
“The ordeal of Roma families in Romania has continued for many years. Now is the time for the local authorities to provide them with adequate housing close to services and facilities in a safe and healthy location,” said Andrea Huber.