Minister Veliaj visits evicted Roma in Tirana, promising quick solutions
On the first day of school, the Albanian Minister of Social Welfare and Youth, Erjon Veliaj, visited the Roma families that have been evicted and have created barracks on a Tirana sidewalk.
The Roma families complained about the humidity and the bad conditions in which they were living these rainy days. The minister presented steps that can be quickly implemented and discussed with representatives of the Roma community the possible housing solutions. “We proposed three or four places, all of them in a closer place than the one that was initially foreseen. A mobile medical team will visit and will take blood tests for every person that will be transferred into the new place. All children will be sent to school so that they will not lose any more days”, he declared.
On 7 August, 30-40 Roma families living in Rruga Kavaja - some of them for over 10 years - were forcibly evicted. That morning, contractors demolished seven or eight makeshift homes before the police responded to calls of the national ombudsman and stopped further evictions and demolitions. The forced evictions were carried out by a construction company which plans to develop the site, completely disregarding the procedures required by national law and international standards. Under international law, evictions may be carried out only as a last resort once alternatives have been explored in genuine consultation with the affected communities. Although Albania does not have a regulation preventing forced evictions, it is under law that the owner of the land is obliged to deliver to people living there a 10 days’ notice. The Roma should have been provided with a formal notice of eviction, regardless of whether they were occupying the land lawfully or unlawfully.
The Director General of the State Police ordered the company to halt all works on the site and asked construction works to be stopped until a housing solution was found for the families. The authorities must ensure that no families are made homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights as a consequence of eviction. The Albanian authorities both at local and national level have committed to undertake concrete actions for improving the living standards of the Roma population. The region of Tirana, among six other Albanian municipalities, is a member of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion launched in March this year. At national level, these municipalities have committed to fulfill the objectives of the "Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015", an initiative of 12 European countries to improve the socio-economic status of Roma communities in collaboration with civil society and international partner organization, one of which is the Council of Europe.