Belgrade families under eviction threat
(Brussels, 19 March 2012) Up to 1,500 people risk forcible eviction at a moment’s notice from their homes in Belvil, an informal settlement in Belgrade, starting this week. They have been given no information on how they will be resettled and many of them may be left homeless. The evictions are being carried out in connection with the construction of an access road to the new River Sava bridge, a project co-financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), which operates on behalf of the European Union’s 27 member states.
“The EIB should remind the Serbian authorities of their obligations under international human rights standards and those which derive from the project agreement with the EIB”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “We urge the EIB immediately to request the Serbian authorities to halt the eviction processes. The EIB should make it clear that as a European institution it upholds human rights and will ensure its funding isn’t linked to or used as a cover for any human rights violations.”
On 15 March, the city of Belgrade told all Belvil residents that they would soon be evicted. A day later, several Belvil residents received notification that the authorities were planning to evict them at any time, as from Monday, 19 March. This follows a period of nearly two years during which civil society organisations and residents living on the route of the planned access road campaigned against planned forced evictions and urged the city authorities to follow international human rights standards. Under these, specific procedures must be followed, and evicted people must not be rendered at risk of homelessness.
At a meeting in April 2011 with residents of Belvil who live on the route of the access road, and attended by an EIB representative, participants were shown plans of prefabricated houses into which it was promised they would move. They were also told that the city would draw up a resettlement action plan to ensure compliance with international human rights standards. Since then, residents have received no information from the city about how resettlement would occur.
“Under international law, evictions must only be as a last resort. The authorities must provide adequate notice, compensation and legal remedies to those affected, and adequate alternative housing to everybody who cannot provide for themselves”, said Beger. “As this hasn’t happened, we urge the Serbian authorities to halt the planned evictions immediately and adhere to international standards, starting with genuine consultation with the affected communities.”
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