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Serbia: Resettlement of Roma families sparks intl concern

last update: April 26, 16:48

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Belgrade, 26 April (AKI) - Belgrade started resettlement of some 250 Roma families from a commercial section of New Belgrade on Thursday, sparking concern of human rights organizations and a protest by Amnesty International.

About one thousand Roma have lived in shacks adjoining the “Belvil” shopping center and a prominent residential area, but city officials said the location had to be cleared for a new traffic route.

Amnesty International said in a statement that Roma families hadn’t been properly informed and consulted on the move, claiming the resettlement was carried out contrary to “international standards of protection of human rights”.

Belgrade mayor Dragan Djilas said the families will be moved to other locations in the city and provided with better living conditions, including water, electricity and schooling for children.

“Our intension isn’t to create a ghetto, but to provide Roma acceptable way of life through resettlement,” Djilas said. Of some two hundred children in the “Belvil” settlement, only eight attended school, which was intolerable, he added.

Djilas said the European Union had promised 3.5 million Euros for Roma resettlement and the entire operation was being supervised by human rights organizations, the AI, EU, United Nations and OSCE officials.

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