Social & Economic rights

Thursday, 6 October 2016

There are still no signs of solution for residents of Čukarička šuma

For more than 17 years the Roma, mainly the internally displaced persons from Kosovo, have been living in the informal settlement “Čukarička šuma“ in the makeshift dwellings with no infrastructure and in extremely adverse conditions. According to the records of the Secretariat for Social Protection there are 81 families or 467 persons residing in this settlement. Almost all of them are unemployed. They usually live exclusively from the collection of recyclable materials.

After more than 17 years there are still no indications of finding a lasting and sustainable housing solution for these persons.

In November 2014, Praxis, supported by SKRUG that gathers 75 civil society organisations and the Network of Organisations for Children of Serbia that gathers 95 civil society organisations, addressed the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration with a request to provide emergency help to the residents of the informal settlement "Čukarička šuma" in the form of the provision of firewood.

The motive for addressing the Commissariat was the protest organised by the residents of Čukarička padina settlement against the residents of the nearby informal settlement "Čukarička šuma" due to the carcinogenic smoke which, according to the citizens, was the result of burning tires, cables and other recyclable materials in that settlement. Although the protesting citizens emphasised that the carcinogenic smoke produced by the ignition of secondary raw materials endangered their health and the health of their children, the fact is that the residents of the informal settlement "Čukarička šuma" are the ones most exposed to health risks. 

Two years ago, we expressed concern for the residents of "Čukarička šuma" and, taking into consideration the widespread discrimination against Roma, pointed to the protests as a serious threat to the peace and security of the settlement residents. Aware of the fact that finding solutions to the problems of the residents of the informal settlement "Čukarička šuma", including a lasting and sustainable housing solution, requires the involvement of all relevant actors, we then addressed to the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration with a request to urgently take measures and activities within the scope of its competence and, in cooperation with relevant institutions and public authorities, ensure solving the housing issue for the settlement residents and providing aid in the form of firewood. On that occasion, we received an answer that the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration had initiated a meeting of the competent services of the Municipality of Čukarica and the City of Belgrade, which was held on 21 November 2014 when it was agreed that the City of Belgrade would adopt a plan for the closure of informal centres in the territory of the City, and take appropriate actions accordingly.

Since September the citizens of the Municipality of Čukarica have been protesting again. Media has reported about it under the headlines Čukarička padina in the smoke of burned tires and PEOPLE, THEY ARE GOING TO POISON US! Residents of Čukarička padina concerned about everyday burning of tires and cables. The city authorities have thought of a way to solve the problem of burning secondary raw materials – by introducing a full-day duty in this part of Čukarička padina, in order to respond quickly to citizen complaints, in cooperation with the Communal Police, if secondary raw materials are burned again.

Despite the Praxis’ initiative, request and pointing to the necessity of providing urgent assistance to the residents of this settlement, the situation has not changed significantly. With the winter approaching, we do not see an adequate response of the authorities to the problems encountered by the residents of the informal settlement "Čukarička šuma", and therefore we once again call for taking measures aimed at improving the living conditions in this settlement.

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action