New Pata Rat area in Cluj-Napoca –Romania © Joshua Tree Photography
On 17 December 2010, approximately 350 people (76 families), the vast majority Roma, were forcibly evicted by local authorities from Coastei Street, in the centre of the city of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in violation of Romania’s international human rights obligations.
Forty families were re-housed in new housing units on the outskirts of the city in the New Pata Rat area, close to the city’s garbage dump and a former dump for chemical waste. The housing provided is inadequate. “The room is very small; the water from outside is coming through the walls. It is really bad, it is a nightmare…This is no place to stay with a family…Next to me, there is a family with 13 people, including 11 children, who live in one room”, said Marius*, one of the Roma relocated to the new houses. No hot water or gas connection is provided, although water, sewage and electricity are supplied.
The other thirty six families were not provided with any alternative housing. While seven of them are being hosted by relatives who were allocated rooms in the housing units, the remaining twenty nine families maintain they were allowed by the municipality to construct improvised homes on the plot near the housing units. “I have just a piece of land and I built [the house] from materials gathered from the garbage. I froze the entire winter because [the house] is not insulated”, said Lia*. The families have no access to water, sanitation and electricity. With only a verbal agreement from the municipality and no formal title to the land, they lack security of tenure and live in daily fear of eviction and of losing their homes again.
The closest bus stop is approximately 2.5 km away, severely impacting their access to education, employment and other essential services. People from the New Pata Rat also reported deteriorated health after the eviction and the relocation. “Everywhere you go around here, all you see is garbage and a strong smell that affects our health day by day” said Aura*.
The families, together with local activists, have repeatedly raised their concerns regarding their living conditions with the municipality of Cluj-Napoca. The requests are yet to be met by the local authorities who so far have not remedied the human rights violations suffered by people forcibly evicted from Coastei Street and relocated to New Pata Rat. The consequences of the forced eviction continue to affect them and they fear that they will remain abandoned by the authorities.
* Names changed to protect identity