Gazela reloaded: another illegal Roma resettlement in Serbia on account of an EIB funded project
April 13, 2012
Belgrade – By the end of April, one hundred Roma families are expected to be illegally resettled from Belgrade neighbourhood Buvljak to several locations including Resnik, where current inhabitants are these days protesting against their arrival . The resettlement is being carried out by Belgrade authorities without a proper resettlement plan or any consideration of the needs of the Roma and potential for inter-racial conflict . The move is deemed necessary as part of the Sava Bridge and adjacent road construction, financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank respectively. 
“As sad as it is to see the anti-Roma protests taking place over the past days in Resnik, it comes as no surprise to us, because locals there have been giving signals they do not want Roma to be moved to the area for a long time,” explains Zvezdan Kalmar from Serbian NGO CEKOR, a member group of CEE Bankwatch Network. “This kind of response is to be expected when neither local people nor the Roma families have been consulted about their needs and wishes. Unfortunately this is just one of several mistakes that have been made in this process: no Resettlement Action Plan has been drawn up, nor have any efforts been made to ensure the needs of the resettled families will be met in the new location.”
The one hundred Roma families are currently living in the Buvljak settlement and several other locations along the Belgrade-Budapest rail transport corridor, where roads meant to serve the newly constructed Sava Bridge are planned to be built with financing from the EIB.
In August 2009, 150 Roma families living in the vicinity of Gazela Bridge in Belgrade were resettled illegally as part of wider reconstruction plans related to EIB-sponsored Gazela Bridge.  Soon after the illegal resettlement, it was proven that the Roma families could not integrate properly in their new locations, because of lack of work opportunities and proper living conditions alongside being geographically marginalised on the far edges of the city. The EIB's Complaints Office, which investigated the project, ruled that there had been a number of mistakes on the EIB side done which were partly to blame for the lack of Roma integration and for a significant project delay.
“Moving Roma families in the same way again, without a proper plan to ensure their long-term social inclusion, is sure to lead to failure, not least because of igniting conflicts between the resettled Roma and hostile local communities,” says Kalmar.
The activist points out that the European Investment Bank, the main financial supporter of the roads requiring this resettlement, has been warned by local NGOs about the possible negative consequences of such illegal resettlements of Roma in Serbia from as early as September 2010, to no avail.
“It is worrying to see that the EIB has learnt nothing from the disastrous Gazela resettlement that it proved powerless to control,” adds Kalmar. “The EIB should act immediately to stop any work under the project it is financing until a resettlement action plan is completed and consulted with interested Roma families, NGOs, and host communities.”
For more information, contact:
Bankwatch Serbian national coordinator
vodana at gmail.com
+381 65 5523 191
Notes for the editors:
 Protesters said they will continue the protests until authorities give up the resettlement idea. Details about the protests:
Resnik is in the outskirts of Belgrade and next to another large infrastructural development on corridor X (a Belgrade bypass financed by the EBRD http://www.ebrd.com/english/pages/project/psd/2006/36651.shtml ).
In addition to Resnik, the Roma families are expected to be resettled to a couple of other locations around Belgrade, some of which have seen anti-Roma protests in the past, even though the precise locations have not all been made public by the authorities.
 Read about long-term efforts by local NGOs to get local authorities and banks financing the project to promote a proper resettlement plan here:
 The European Investment Bank is offering 160 million euros for the construction of Sava Bridge and access roads:
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development financially supported the construction of the Sava Bridge:
 Read more about the Gazela resettlement and its negative consequences:
 See an Amnesty International petition against the illegal resettlement of the one hundred Roma families:
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