Cardboard city in the heart of Belgrade

4000 Roma live in improvised houses under the Gazela bridge without electricity and water supply

Residents of the Roma cardboards settlement under the Gazela bridge in Belgrade have been living under inhuman conditions for years, without electricity and water supply. Cardboard boxes that have been brought to this illegal housing project served as a material for building improvised houses for 4000 Roma. -We are struggling here. We work with cardboard boxes and glass. We live in catastrophic conditions, but what can we do about it… Every house has a small wagon used for transportation of the cardboard Roma collect. They sell it at 1 dinar per kilo – said Nebojsa Saitovic, a resident of this housing project.

– In a day, we collect around 150 kilograms of cardboard, which is valued 150 dinars (less than 2 EUR). I work from 8 AM till dark for that money. Also, we collect glass jars, which for we are paid 3 dinars per kilogram. We are struggling, my friend, but the thing that hurts are the most is that we, Serbian Roma, receive such a small support. Roma from Kosovo are always the first to receive humanitarian aid. We get what is left after them. According to the residents of this housing project, their life got much more difficult after the flea market in New Belgrade was closed. They used to sell second hand goods on that flea market. Now, even if they manage to acquire “valuable” second hand goods, they dont have a place to sell it.

– We are hardly surviving. We appeal to the authorities to open a flea market where we can sell the goods. They want to relocate us to some other part of the city. What do they think? How are we supposed to work with cardboard then? From here, we hardly manage to transport it to Cukarica, where we sell it – says Radomir Azemovic and adds – in a tv report, they said that our children don’t want to go to school. That is not true. I am illiterate and I didn’t go to school. My child wants to go to school and it should. They don’t have a place to bath themselves. There is no electricity so they could study. A lot of other things are missing.

Source: Decade of Roma inclusion Web portal

Author: Freedom Fight – Pokret za slobodu, http://www.freedomfight.net

More information:

CEE Bank Watch: The Belgrade Bypass and Gazela Bridge Projects, May 2007