Last week I was in Serbia to take photographs for an article about the Roma people living there. This was a great experience which included meeting a lot of interesting people who was living in these camps or trying to help them.
The main problem the Roma people in Serbia has today is that they have no type of identification. There is a possibility to go to another town to get this, but the trip plus the cost for the identification can be as much as 150 euro per person, which is of course impossible to save up to when you don’t even have money for your daily food. Without identification you are not allowed to get an apartment, hospital treatment or to work, which means no income. A lot of the people collects and returns paper though which barely gives enough money for food. The rest lives from food found in the trash.
The second problem is that the Roma people have no fixed place to stay and are unwanted everywhere. A lot of them move to Belgrade in the belief that it is easier for them to find a job there. Some tries to go to other countries with trucks, paying with their last money/jewelry/possessions, to find themselves get thrown back to Serbia again. When they arrive they get left outside by the police (that follows them from the country throwing them out) outside the Belgrade airport with no money, no information and no idea where to go. Most end up on the streets and after some time hopefully move into one of the about 150 Roma camps in Belgrade, which is houses of cardboard built up on a trash yard. After some years the government will destroy the camp to be able to build on that ground, and you will have to start from the beginning again.
Most of the Roma children don’t go to school because of the parents needing them to work instead, begging or collecting paper. On top of this they can’t afford to pay for the food the children need to buy if going to school. Also, if the children is born or have lived the main part of their life in another country they can’t speak or understand the Serbian language which will disable them in school.
The pictures below is from one of the camps I visited, this one in Belgrade. The spirit of all the people I met was very high and everyone being very positive and warm, although they have been informed that their camp will be totally destroyed to the ground within two months because it disturbs the view of a newly built modern house with expensive apartments, where by the way their old camp were placed before getting destroyed. They will probably not be told the exact date and the government will not allow photographers or other media people on the place when this happens.