Forced from Home
In 2004, around 100 Roma people were forcibly evicted from their home on Pictor Nagy Street in a central Romanian town called Miercurea Ciuc (which is known locally as Csíkszereda).
Around 75 of them are now living in metal cabins and shacks right next to a sewage plant.
The conditions are unsanitary and a horrible smell of human waste hangs permanently in the air.
The Roma were told that the move was temporary, but nearly eight years later, the local authorities have no plan to relocate them to adequate housing. The rest of the community evicted from Pictor Nagy Street is living by a garbage dump two kilometers outside the town.
The authorities who evicted the Roma families didn't follow the safeguards for evictions laid down by international law: The families were not given the opportunity to challenge the eviction decision, and they were given no opportunity to engage with the decision-making process. No written, detailed notification, including the date of the eviction, was given to all involved evictees sufficiently in advance, despite the requirements of the Romanian law.
The living conditions near the sewage plant are inhumane. The metal cabins are overcrowded, with only four toilets for 75 people and only one tap for drinking water.
The cabins and shacks are cramped and do not protect the families from the heat, damp, wind or rain.
Romanian law stipulates that people should not live within 300 meters of potential toxic hazards, and the Roma families are living well within this danger zone. The authorities have done nothing to investigate the potential danger to the Roma's health from living so close to the sewage plant.
Roma people (sometimes pejoratively referred to as "Gypsies") have frequently been the targets of discrimination. Across Europe, Romani communities are often denied equal access to adequate housing, education, health, water and sanitation.
The case of forced eviction of the Roma families from Pictor Nagy Imre street in Miercurea Ciuc is just one illustrative example of discrimination against Roma that stretches across Romania and all over Europe. Their rights to adequate housing are particularly violated.
In Romania, as well as in other countries in the region, decentralization of power has given more authority to municipalities on issues such as housing and education. As a result housing rights violations often occur without central government checking, and local mayors continue to function in breech of human rights without any accountability.