Anonymous Notices Leave Residents of Orlandovtsi District in Sofia Homeless
On June 16, dozens of Roma residents in the Orlandovtsi neighbourhood of Sofia found anonymous notices on their doors, instructing them to vacate their homes by June 30, as their dwellings were scheduled for demolition. Consequently, these inhabitants are now faced with the grim prospect of becoming homeless.
Most of the affected individuals lack the means to rent alternative accommodation. Even those who have the financial resources would find it challenging to relocate within such a short timeframe. This situation puts the lives of vulnerable groups, including children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities, at risk. For many, these homes have been their lifelong residences, with some even being born and raised in them.
The documents posted on their doors are anonymous, lacking any signature, stamp, or indication of the publisher's identity. Following the intervention of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) and a court request, the local authorities in the Sofia district are now obligated to provide the case documents, allowing for scrutiny of the basis for the eviction.
Such illegal actions by local authorities, resulting in the destruction of the only homes of Roma and other vulnerable minority groups, are not unprecedented. In the case of the eviction of residents of the village of Voyvodinovo in Plovdiv in 2019, the European Court of Human Rights awarded over 109,000 euros in compensation for non-pecuniary damages and 9,000 euros for costs incurred. However, those compensations are not paid by the politicians who inspire such violations or the officials who execute such arbitrariness; rather, they are funded by taxpayers, as there is no mechanism to hold individuals personally accountable.
To observe the situation in the Orlandovtsi district, a video clip captured by the BHC is available here.