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13.07..2015State Agency for Child Protection elaborate report on the situation in Garmen

 

A week after the field study on the situation of children and their parents in "Kremikovtzi" neighbourhood in Garmen, State Agency for Child Protection summarized the main observations and conclusions in a special report.

 

 

 

The study was initiated and led by the SACP, as it was attended by representatives of the "Social Assistance" - Gotse Delchev and community moderators from CIDT "Amalipe." It covered 56 households and 71 families. Nearly half of the families living in the neighborhood were not interviewed, as they were working outside the village for the season.

 

 

 

Facts: The results of the study showed that community in Kremikovtzi neighbourhood is one of the largest nationwide: nearly 54% of the residents are under 18. Almost 95% of those living in Kremikovtzi were born there and others have residence in Garmen (str. "Out of regulation"), a fact which completely refutes allegations that in recent years there have been a lot of people coming to settle down in the neighbourhood.

 

 

 

The absence of many social distortions typical for a gheto was significant: all children and almost all adults had a personal physician, physical development of children was good (with the exception of 5 children with disabilities), sexually transmitted infections were absent as well as drug use, only 2 adults were registered for alchoholism.

 

 

 

At the same time the social status of the residents was bad. For example, 50.3 percent of adults were unemployed, 36% had seasonal jobs. The rest received maternity or were included in programs for temporary employment, and only one person worked under an employment contract. There were 2 pensioners. The income of the majority of people were formed by social benefits - 72%, 34% of them had sporadic income from seasonal work - picking berries, mushrooms and herbs. A small number of persons were included in employment programs.

 

 

 

Educational status: almost all children in the "school age" were at school (with the exception of four disabled children and nine others who should be in ninth grade but did not continue after primary education), but literacy is low many students in 5th grade hardly read and write.

 

 

 

The report presents also the worst housing conditions in the neighborhood. Although living in brick or stone houses (temporary buildings were only 2), 57% of households have neither electricity nor water. The two "luxury" simultaneously (electricity and water) have only 11%, the rest have only electricity.

 

 

 

Children at risk were 10, the report identified five disabled children and five others for whome there were a risk of injury. Even they were cared for by their families. Two of the children with the most severe disabilities lived in both houses that would have been demolished on July 13, if the European Court of Human Rights hadn't interfered.

 

 

 

The report ended with conclusions and recommendations. Several conditions were listed that had to be met before proceeding to forced evictions, in accordance with the UN Guidelines on the cases of forced evictions and the right to adequate housing: it was visible that some of them were not available in the case of Garmen . "When you can not avoid eviction and when people are consuming only one home the authorities are obliged to find remedies and to offer alternative housing (in such case, we have a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights - Case" Yordanova and Others v Bulgaria "in Application № 25446/06), in order to prevent human rights violations." the report said.

 

 

 

Series of concrete measures were suggested to be taken by all stakeholders. Attracting partners from NGOs and church community was also proposed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoken and unspoken: the SACP report should be highly evaluated for the listed facts and conclusions. At a time in which protesters, journalists and even entire media, sociologists and "analysts" (many of whom had not heard of Garmen before the end of May and have never been in the village), competently explain the roots of the "Roma terror" there, screaming "Ruin it, ruin it!", the report tells a different truth. Which is that although they are poor and live in shockingly poor conditions, people in the neighborhood of "Kremikovtzi" can not be defined as "risky".

 

 

 

In this respect, at least two things are eye-catching that the report says nothing about but worth thinking about. The first is that in such severe social, residential and partly - educational problems for which the district can be called "ghetto", the people in don't have the typical for a ghetto "social distortions": drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, crime and so on. Possibly it is due to the active Protestant church there, which was omitted from the report. The second is that actually the facts from the SACP report completely refute the picture painted by protesters, journalists and analysts.It is normal for the unbiased reader to ask himself where this definite desire of protesters to the rapid demolition of the neighborhood comes from: whether any form of purely human sensitivity to the fact that hundreds of children will be left without a roof over the head, including children with severe disabilities has completely disappeared?  Whether the traditional Bulgarian love for school has disappeared, having the fact that without the children from the neighborhood the school in Garmen will be with limited delegated budget, and in perspective - will be closed? Or the most vocal protesters are not from Garmen but the demons of hatred are put outside? The report failed to mention these issues, which is also a weakness.

 

 

 

The report did not explicitly say something else, which otherwise has been stated in many places. Although it is stated that many of the necessary conditions to proceed with the demolition of buildings in the neighborhood were not met, and although it was clear that eviction could only lead to serious problems, not to solve such, the report does not say clearly enough that the demolition should be postponed! Not canceled, but postponed until all the necessary conditions are fulfilled, including finding a suitable alternative housing. This was clearly stated by the European Court of Human Rights, as the SACP report said, but not stated. I consider this a major weakness of an otherwise quality report - a serious political weakness. I would wait to see the day when our Bulgarian institutions will find the political courage to propose and implement unpopular decisions that are correct. And we should not think that human rights - in particular, the child's rights will be protected only by the court in Strasbourg.

 

 

 

Author: Deyan Kolev

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