Wednesday, April 8, 2009


BELGRADE, Serbia, April 7 (UPI) -- The eviction of a small Romany community from their shanties Tuesday triggered outcries against Gypsy discrimination by Serbian officials, observers said.

About 40 Romanies have been sleeping in the open for four nights between Belgrade's high-rise apartment blocs after officials pulled down their sheds, the Serbian news agency Beta said Tuesday.

Belgrade officials evicted the Romany families from 28 tin-and-cardboard shanties erected on state land close to a newly built housing blocks in the New Belgrade district.

The authorities tried to move the Romany families to prefabricated apartments on the outskirts of Belgrade but local residents blocked the area, keeping the Romanies from settling in. Many of the Romanies returned to the New Belgrade district.

More than 43 non-governmental organizations asked the Serbian and Belgrade officials to provide proper housing for the Gypsy families that were forced out from their shanties.

On the eve of April 8, the International Day of the Romany, a number of European organizations warned that strong opposition to foreigners is on the rise amid the current economic crisis in some countries. These organizations said they are concerned over discriminatory attitudes towards the Romanies, particularly over recent escalation of incidents motivated by hatred and racial rhetoric.

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