NGOs Call for End to Forced Evictions of Roma in Freezing Temperatures
Budapest, Tirana, Vilnius, 7 February 2012: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and national partners sent letters to Albanian and Lithuanian authorities expressing grave concerns over the forced evictions of Romani individuals during extreme weather conditions.
In Tirana, Albania more than 50 Romani individuals, including 25 children, were told to demolish their living quarters close to Tirana Artificial Lake on 24 January 2012. According to reports from the community, representatives of Tirana Municipality came with a bulldozer, and told the community to demolish their accommodation voluntarily; otherwise it would be demolished forcefully.
The representatives promised the families that they would receive accommodation in the May 5 neighbourhood on the same day. The families were never given accommodation and have had to try to rebuild their homes. The ERRC and the Albanian Helsinki Committee sent a joint letter to authorities, asking them to act immediately to find alternative adequate accommodation and long-term housing solutions.
In Lithuania, the Municipality of Vilnius has given verbal and written notices that it plans to demolish the houses of four Romani families in the settlement in Kirtimai, Vilnius on the 13 February 2012. Out of the 10 people in the three houses concerned, there are six children under 12, including a six-month-old baby. The temperature in Lithuania currently reaches minus 30 degrees Celsius during the night.
The ERRC wrote the letter with Lithuanian organisations NGO Roma Community Centre and Roma Association “Gypsy Fire”.
The ERRC and partners are concerned that the municipal authorities in both cases are evicting families in the coldest period of the year, without consultation or adequate alternative housing. The authorities have not complied with international protections and, as a result, the Romani communities face severe risks to their health and wellbeing.
The organisations urge the Albanian and Lithuanian authorities to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing. They call on the municipalities to suspend the planned evictions and find sustainable housing solutions for all Romani individuals affected.