Around 200 activists are expected at Cluj City Hall today (December 17 ) to protest against the forced relocation of Romani families. The protest marks two years since around 300 people were forced out of their homes in Coastei Street and sent to a location outside the city close to a landfill site and chemical waste dump. Most of those evicted were of Roma ethnicity and single room accommodation with shared facilities was provided by the municipality for only some of those whom police forced out of their homes in the middle of winter in 2010.
The area where most of them ended up is known as Pata Rat and those living there are facing obstacles in health, education and employment due to their location. “It is a sad anniversary for us. On 17 December 2010, early in the morning, an impressive number of police forces arrived on Coastei Street, joined by the local authorities. We were overwhelmed and terrified by the number of police officers. Following pressure and verbal threats from the local authorities, we accepted the housing they proposed without knowing the exact location and the condition it was in,”said one of the campaigners Ernest Creta, who now lives in an improvised shelter in the Pata Rat area.
According to the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) around 30 of the 76 families evicted were not provided with any alternative accommodation, leaving them effectively homeless. Families that did get a place to live next to the rubbish dumps were given one room per family with communal bathrooms shared between three families. The only connection between the Pata Rat area and the city is a school bus that leaves at 07:15. The nearest bus stop for normal services is 2.5 Km away, across the railway tracks, according to the ERRC.
Various international institutions have supported the residents of Pata Rat in their campaign for decent housing. The local and national authorities have been urged to step up and meet the human rights commitments to which Romania has agreed. The authorities announced earlier this year that they would move Pata Rat residents out of the area in 2014. However, according to the ERRC, “details of the planned relocation are vague and the Romani communities face more years of living in substandard accommodation that stops them from fully accessing their basic rights to education, employment and healthcare.”
Read the ERRC report on Pata Rat: Taken From the City
Liam Lever, email@example.com
photo by Mirela Chiorean, courtesy of the European Roma Rights Centre