Varna Municipality, in cooperation with state authorities, on August 20 evicted hundreds of people living in the city's Maksuda neighborhood. It is one of the largest forced evictions conducted since the beginning of the democratic changes in Bulgaria.
The inadequate and poorly planned actions of the city and state authorities created a humanitarian crisis that threatens the health and lives of many people, and children most of all.
According to official information, 58 houses were planned to be demolished and 46 of them have been destroyed. Official data shows that 520 people, including 233 children, live in the 58 homes subject to demolition.
Despite the fact that Varna's attempts to offer alternative accommodation to the homeless families is a step in the right direction, no prior discussion with the affected parties took place and no alternatives to the forced eviction were considered. As a result, a number of children and their parents spent the night of August 20 outside or in makeshift shelters in the cold and the rain.
3 to a bed
The partially secured alternative accommodation in Varna is a temporary and uncertain measure. The arranged accommodation period is one month, which essentially makes the placement in social services an inadequate alternative to the destroyed homes of victims.
Even before it took in those left homeless from the forced evictions, the shelter in Varna was already home to some 100 people — twice its official capacity.
An additional 20 adults and 28 children were placed in the shelter by August 21, making the number of people staying there almost three times greater than the number of available beds.
Regardless of the gross human rights violations as a result of forced evictions, the municipal authorities in Varna stated their intent to continue with the demolition of the remaining 12 houses currently planned for demolition, as well as another 150 houses in the predominantly Roma neighborhood.
The actions of the municipal authorities in Varna, where illegal construction is not limited only to the homes of the families in the Maksuda neighborhood, are unfair and discriminatory. They are carried out for an amoral electoral goal: to earn political dividends on the basis of anti-Roma prejudice and hatred.
International standards require that in cases where the forced eviction from illegal construction concerns the only accommodation of the affected people, authorities must carry out prior consultation with them and avoid rendering them homeless in both the short and the long term.