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Authorities of Asparuhovo town blame a flooding event on Roma community, Bulgaria

Flooding in Asparuhovo in 2014: 14 killed, most of them Roma; but Roma blamed because of itimber extraction and living in a ravine. Strong hate speech used by authorities.


On June 19, 2014, torrential rains caused severe flash flooding across northeastern Bulgaria, submerging large parts of several cities in the region  [2] . One of them  is Asparuhovo. A city that is is home to a variety of minority groups, including nearly 1000 Roma [3] . And a city that was the hardest hit area during the floods. Entire streets and houses vanished. A total of 14 people were killed, including 4 children [3].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict: Authorities of Asparuhovo town blame a flooding event on Roma community, Bulgaria
State or province:Varna
Location of conflict:Asparuhovo
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Urban development conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

After the flooding event; houses built on the ravine belonging to Roma families were demolished by police without an official municipal order, and inhabitants currently live with relatives or in social housing provided by the Varna municipality [3]. Local authorities did not get decent housing and secure environment for Roma in the years before the flooding and neither after the flooding event [2] [3].

Project area:1,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:1000
Start of the conflict:20/06/2014
Relevant government actors:Local authorities and Bulgarian Government.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Open Society Foundation reported actively on the case through alternative media.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Development of alternative proposals
Media based activism/alternative media
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Other Environmental impacts, Waste overflow, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Potential: Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Other Environmental impactsFlooding
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Deaths
Potential: Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Displacement and some compensations about 250 leva (130 euros) for three months to rent social housing. Affected families refused the compensation because the offer is still precarious for them, especially for families with children [3].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The Roma families were displaced and even blamed for the flooding event and their houses were demolished [2] [3].
Sources & Materials

[1] Bulgaria - Segregated and excluded – the situation of Roma
[click to view]

[2] Wikipedia: 2014 Bulgarian floods
[click to view]

[3] Open Society Fundation: A Flood Lays Bare Inequality in Bulgaria
[click to view]

[5] The Asparuhovo case is closed, no was found responsible, Vesti, 28 August 2018
[click to view]

[4 Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. ]Bulgaria: Violence against Roma, including by extremist groups; state protection and treatment by police (2013-October 2015)
[click to view]

13 human lives and caused damages for tens of millions of levs in Asparuhovo, Lexins 19 March 2015
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Ksenija Hanacek ICTA-UAB
Last update11/09/2019
Conflict ID:4282
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