Montengro: Kosovo Roma Protest Over Housing

Almost a hundred Kosovo Roma, who were made homeless after a fire destroyed parts of the Konik refugee camp, staged a protest on Wednesday in front of the Montenegrin government headquarters.The Roma were protesting because they had only been given tents as temporary housing after a fire burned down their settlement on the outskirts of the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica on Tuesday.According to Montenegrin officials, some 850 people, mainly Roma who fled Kosovo during the war in 1999, lost their belongings in the fire that swept through the refugee barracks in the suburb of Konik.

The Red Cross set up 90 tents for the refugees on Tuesday night but the Roma told the Serbian news agency Beta on Wednesday morning that they wanted a permanent solution.

“The temporary housing has lasted for 13 years. If you cannot come up with a permanent housing solution and provide us with something better than shacks and tents, do not deceive us. You would be better off shooting us, this is torture,” one of the protesting Roma said.

Zeljko Sofranac, the director of the Montenegrin Bureau for Care of Refugees, says that the tents were a short-term solution and that the government was working on providing permanent housing for the Roma.

The EU has recently donated €2.5 million to finance the creation of permanent housing for the Konik refugee camp residents.

The European Council said in a recent report that the camp “de facto represents segregation” and “that living conditions in the camp are inhumane and dangerous”.

The cause of the fire, which started in the early hours of Tuesday morning, is still unknown but police suspect that it broke out due to negligence.

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