Nevada (US), Dec 14 (ANI): Roma (Gypsy) in Balkans live in overcrowded residences, in hazardous areas without access to infrastructure, further exacerbated by lack of security of tenure and vulnerability to forced evictions, according to research undertaken by European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC).
These findings, released in Belgrade on December 13, reveal that Roma are often unable to escape these environments, as they face racism and discrimination in seeking private accommodation and accessing social housing, as well as restrictive eligibility criteria for the latter. This study, supported by United Nations Democracy Fund, documented the housing situation of Roma in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia.
It points out that private citizens were also found to have discriminated against Roma in access to publicly available rental accommodation and to have organized campaigns during or prior to collective evictions to prevent Roma from relocating to their neighborhoods. In extreme cases, non-Roma have attacked and set fire to the temporary housing prepared for Roma.
This research reveals that local authorities continue to forcibly evict Roma. At times, local authorities destroyed the homes of Roma without allowing residents the opportunity to remove their personal belongings. Some authorities have built segregated social housing for Roma only. Some such communities are located next to garbage dumps or other hazardous areas.
Well known Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Balkans needed to urgently address these Roma issues and follow the international and European law and human rights standards.
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that this undeclared apartheid of Roma in Europe must end immediately. Roma reportedly regularly faced social exclusion, racism, substandard education, hostility, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, etc., Zed added.
Established in 1996 and headquartered in Budapest (Hungary), ERRC is an international public interest law organization having consultative status with the Council of Europe as well as with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Robert Kushen is the Executive Director while Dr. Jeno Kaltenbach is the Board of Directors Chair. (ANI)