Serbia testimony

Lilijana fled from Kosovo in 1999, and after a year in Bela Palanka in southern Serbia, she moved to Gazela where she ran a small shop. Mima, her daughter, works at the post office in New Belgrade. Amnesty International interviewed Lilijana in the Barajevo settlement in south Belgrade in February 2010: 

“In 2007 they started making lists of people. We were to be included in the housing project. The Roma National Council took us to their office to show us the maquette (model) of the houses and consult us about our needs. Back then, they were already giving out the documentation required to be included in the project: 114 families were supposed to be included. Then in August [2009] we got the decision about the eviction from Mr Đukic. We didn’t know where we would be evicted to. I’m not happy about the eviction. It was easier to make a living in Gazela than here in Barajevo. My daughter has to travel an hour and a half to get to work now.” 

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Tomica, from southern Serbia has lived in Belgrade for 20 years: 

“They came with trucks and police and vans. We all had to leave in 20 minutes. I lost my house, TV, DVD, new beds, mirrors, fridge, everything. I wasn’t even there when the house was taken down. [Dragan] Đilas [Mayor of Belgrade] and others came from the municipality – I was arguing with them about our destination. My family [wife and two children] was listed to go to Mladenovac, but we wanted to go to Barajevo. While I was talking, they took my house down.” 

Tomica received no compensation for the destruction of his house, its contents, or the van which he used to earn his living, collecting scrap metal.Tomica has reconciled himself with life in the new settlement. He arrived in Barajevo with only the clothes he stood up in, but had been appointed by the City as camp co-ordinator, and was paid a monthly wage: 

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Romani women’s health is reported as being significantly worse than that of the general population as a result of inadequate living conditions, substandard housing, poverty and the disadvantaged position of Romani women within their domestic setting. Women have to deal with the stress of living in such circumstances - and the stress of facing eviction. 

Valdeta Missini lives in Belvil under threat of eviction: “It is extremely difficult to live here. It takes 10 trips to get enough water from the pump; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s hard for the children to play outside because of the garbage and the mud and in summer there are lost of rats... and we all have to sleep in the same room.”