Last update:
2019-09-21

Displacement of Roma community due to reforestation in Lozenetz, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria

Roma evicted due to afforestation project that never took place, in Lozenetz quarter in the town of Stara Zagora. They got support from other Roma in Fakulteta district in Sofia.


Description:

City administration of Stara Zagora set up a plan for mass eviction of all  Roma settlements in the Lozenetz quarter due to a reforestation of the area in the period 2014–2016 [1] [2]. The plan started with the demolition of more than 50 Roma houses in July 2014. Two years later (2016), the land had not been reforested [1]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Displacement of Roma community due to reforestation in Lozenetz, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria
Country:Bulgaria
State or province:Stara Zagora
Location of conflict:Stara Zagora, Lozenetz quarter
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

In 2016 the actions and decisions related to the housing demolition and relocation of the Roma households due to a reforestation of an area that never took place. At the same time the Roma were not included in the "green" urban plan. Instead, the Roma were expelled from the neighbourhood and faced risk of living on the streets [1].

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Project area:80
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:400
Start of the conflict:01/01/2014
Relevant government actors:Bulgarian government. The mayor of Stara Zagora.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Local Engagement for Roma Inclusion (LERI) (micro-credits based) https://fra.europa.eu/en/project/2013/multi-annual-roma-programme/local-engagement
World without Borders https://www.ngo.sviatbezgranici.org/
The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee https://www.bghelsinki.org/en/
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:World without borders NGO and the LERI succeeded in convincing a team of two university professors, one construction tutor and two master students students to prepare and design the standardised construction plan equal for everyone in the city of Lozenetz. Some municipal representers were present at the meeting as well. However the municipal officials who had been directly involved in housing integration disrespected the LERI field expert and used racist statements against the Roma [1].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:On a positive note, some municipal decisions were taken, such as offering land plots at a discounted price for the Roma, and establishing a social housing structure based on the research. Still only four families (out of 400 people) were committed to have houses on the new plots and there is a civil organisation that is able and ready to advocate for them. On the negative side is the permanent threat of eviction stemming from the notices being distributed in some sub-areas of the neighbourhood, then postponing the action for an undefined term; then distributing new eviction notices in another sub-area, then postponing again, etc. [1]. The reforestation never took place, nor are the Roma included in the "green" plan. From the beginning, the plan is to exclude the Roma from the city. Therefore, this conflict cannot be characterised as a successful [1] [2].
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Alexey Pamporov (2016). Local engagement for Roma inclusion. Locality study Stara Zagora (Bulgaria). European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.26092.97920
[click to view]

[4] Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, press release 22 July 2014
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] Clashes Erupt in Bulgarian Stara Zagora over Illegal Houses Demolition
[click to view]

[3] Roma Protesters Block Three Trains in Bulgaria's Sofia
[click to view]

Other documents

Roma people protesting Clashes broke out between Police and the inhabitants of the Roma neighbourhood in the city of Stara Zagora, Lozenetz district. Source: Novinite.com July 21, 2014, Monday // 10:01
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Ksenija Hanacek ICTA-UAB
Last update21/09/2019
Comments
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