Paving the way to a better future for Roma families in Serbia

“I want to thank the City of Belgrade for giving me a chance to feel like any other woman.  I have my own apartment, I have a separate bathroom,” says Afrodita, a Roma who lived for years with her husband and four children in the slums of Serbia’s capital Belgrade.

Her family, like many others, was evicted from the slum as the city embarked on a large scale infrastructure development.

An estimated quarter of a million Roma live in Serbia, a country situated at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe.  The Roma often live on the margins of society, jobless and subject to widespread discrimination.

The United Nations Human Rights Office and its partners engaged with the Government to ensure human rights standards were observed in the process of moving Roma families.

“We spent a lot of time visiting the Roma settlements, working with Roma people on their issues,” said UN Human Rights Advisor Marija Raus. “We do not build houses but what we do is help them understand what their rights are and then talk to institutions and help them understand that these are rights.”

After months of advocacy a social housing project was initiated. It aims to house about 200 families and is funded by the European Union. So that people like Afrodita can now have a home.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Human Rights, which led to the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and the establishment of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to oversee the international human rights framework, promote human rights and protect individuals against abuse.The human right to adequate housing, which is thus derived from the right to an adequate standard of living, is of central importance for the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights. Economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights and the right to development are recognized as the universal, indivisible, and mutually dependent rights of all human beings, without distinction.

 18 June 2013

VIDEO: New homes for Roma families in Serbia

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