“Container Guards” – Waiting for Social Housing in Belgrade

In the latest episode of A 11 Initiative podcast, we spoke with two residents of the container settlement about the conditions in which they live, but also about their long-term struggle to solve their housing problem.

Right next to Ada Ciganlija, there is a small container settlement, a place whose residents live in 12-13 square meters metal “boxes”. Their homes are not provided with sanitary facilities, and it is almost impossible to maintain good hygiene because there are no toilets, showers, or sinks, which has adverse health effects, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Kadrija and Neđmija are siblings from Makiš, who, in addition to dealing with the lack of space and proper hygiene, are both struggling with disabilities and trying to cope with this situation every day. They almost never leave the container because it is very difficult for them to move, so one can only imagine what their room looks like, where not a single thing has ever been washed.

Kadrija and Neđmija first had lived under the Pančevo bridge, from where they were displaced to Makiš, and for years now they have not been able to solve their housing issue. First they were offered to move to a rural household, but then there was talk of the construction of social housing in Ovča, which was suspended because the local population rebelled against the arrival of Roma. All relevant institutions were informed of their case, but chose to deal neither with their housing problem, nor to provide any kind of assistance; this kind of neglect of the most vulnerable citizens can result in catastrophic consequences directly endangering their lives.

In this episode, we spoke with Kadrija and Neđmija about everyday life in such alarming conditions and what it’s like to fight (in vain) for a solution to housing problem, while at the same time you fear every coming winter.


Prepared by Danilo Ćurčić and Nađa Marković