Demolition of Roma Homes in Bulgaria
In 2022, commissioned by the Institute for European Policies of the Open Society, the Equal Opportunities Initiative Association carried out research and analyzes and prepared a report on the situation of the Roma in Bulgaria, related to the insecurity of a single dwelling and the danger of forced evictions.
In 2017, the Open Society European Policy Institute found extensive evidence that the Bulgarian government targeted Roma for eviction and demolition of their homes. In subsequent years the situation deteriorated further, with 3000 demolitions taking place between 2017 and 2020, leaving people homeless and unable to obtain documents that would prove their right to basic services. These demolition orders, which disproportionately affect Roma communities, are a breach of domestic, EU, and international law, but Bulgarian courts approve them.
Alarmingly, EU funds intended for Roma housing were instead diverted to building highways and other construction projects. Some were even used to demolish Roma homes.
The Bulgarian government has signaled its intention to tackle the problem of illegal Roma housing, but has failed to take appropriate action. Most urgently, it should make it easier for Roma to make their homes legal if they are of stable construction. Parliamentarians have tabled a bill to this effect: it needs to become law. In the longer term, the country must develop robust and equitable housing and integration strategies that serve all its citizens.
Authors: Daniela Mihaylova, Alexander Emilov Kashumov, and Alexander Alexandrov Kashumov