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Volume 712: debated on Monday 20 July 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they or the European Union are making to the government of Serbia about their treatment of the Roma minority, including evicting them from Blok 67, Belgrade. [HL4993]

The Government, through our embassy in Belgrade, is engaged, alongside a number of partners, in encouraging the Serbian Government to improve the conditions of the Roma minority in Serbia.

The Department for International Development office in Serbia is working with the European Bank for Development and Reconstruction (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB), the City of Belgrade and Roma representatives to draw up a sustainable relocation plan for the informal Roma settlements located under the arterial Gazela bridge, in order to allow for its complete overhaul. EBRD and EIB funds will not be released for the overhaul of the bridge until the resettlement plan has been agreed. The intention is that the plan will serve as a model for use by the government authorities in handling similar situations involving relocation of Roma communities, helping to ensure that situations similar to Blok 67 are avoided in future.

The European Commission (EC) delegation in Belgrade supports the rights of minorities in Serbia, including the Roma, through its Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance. The EC assists registration and return of displaced persons, durable solutions for housing and employment, legal assistance and income support. EC funds also assist the Commissariat for Refugees, minority national councils, the Agency for Human and Minority Rights and non-governmental organisations in order to support vulnerable groups' rights.