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Rights Group Urges Serbia to Stop Evicting Roma

A Roma settlement in Belgrade, April 7, 2011

A Roma settlement in Belgrade, April 7, 2011

Amnesty International is urging Serbia to halt forced evictions of Roma people and guarantee them the right to adequate housing.

The London-based rights group released a report Thursday saying Serbian authorities are driving a growing number of Roma, also known as Gypsies, from their settlements in the capital, Belgrade, and forcing them to live in inadequate housing.

Amnesty International says forced evictions since April 2009 have left some Roma living in metal containers in settlements segregated from the rest of the population.

The issue is part of what the rights group describes as the "widespread and systematic discrimination" that Roma suffer in Serbia.

The report comes on the eve of the International Day of the Roma on April 8, which is aimed at raising awareness of the issues faced by the ethnic group.

The European Union says Europe's 10 to 12 million Roma continue to encounter discrimination, exclusion and the denial of their rights.

On Tuesday, the EU called on its 27 member states to submit national strategies by the end of the year for better integrating Roma and improving their living conditions.

The EU says its member countries have a joint responsibility to end Roma exclusion from schools, jobs, heath care and housing.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.