Belgrade, 7 January 2009 – Five makeshift barracks have burned in a fire this morning in a Roma settlement under the Gazela bridge in Belgrade.Firefighters reacted quickly to localize and put out the flames. There were no casualties.
According to people who live there, the fire was most likely caused by an “improvised stove”.
The Roma who live there cope with the freezing weather by burning old shoes, paper and anything else they can get, unable to buy coal or firewood.
The settlement, near the heart of Belgrade, has been there for the past 20 years. The Roma live without water and electricity, in humid shanties and makeshift houses.
The place is littered with piles of garbage, paper and other items they collect and sell to make a living.
Several attempts so far by the city authorities to solve the problem have failed.