Serbian authorities have started the mass eviction of 250 Roma families from the capital’s Belvill’s settlement despite the opposition of human right activists.
According to the City of Belgrade’s data, almost half of the families are internally displaced people from Kosovo and they will be moved to the various Belgrade suburb areas, while the Roma from other parts of Serbia will be returned to their towns of origin.
Some of the families, who signed the agreement with the authorities, will be sent to Kosovo to the towns they left during the conflict in 1999.
Belgrade police and city authorities did not use force during Thursday’s eviction, which was monitored by the media as well as representatives from Amnesty International, local NGOs, UN organizations, the EU delegation in Serbia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
“People are coming up to us, with tears in their eyes, asking us what they should do and where they should go,” said an Amnesty International observer present at the eviction.
Belgrade Mayor Dragan Djilas, who has been present during Thursday’s eviction, said that the intention of the authorities was to make better living conditions for Roma and their neighbors.
“This is a question of law and respect of the rules in Belgrade, and who does not comply will be sanctioned”, Djilas said.
The eviction of Roma has caused the outcry of both national and international humanitarian organizations, noting that Belgrade authorities failed to consult the Roma communities, denying them adequate information, notices and legal remedies.