The reported negligence of the Nea Zoi settlement in the municipality of Aspropyrgos (Greece), where many Roma people live, makes visible the lack of provision of basic services such as water and electricity, as well as the constant harassment, threat, and direct eviction of the residents [1, 2, 3, 5, 6]. This case is shown in a political context of discrimination, segregation, and harassment.
The Nea Zoi settlement is 22 kilometers away from Athens and located next to the Fili landfill, surrounded by waste and factories [2, 7, 8]. The number of people living in the settlement was about 200 in 2017 , and the main occupation of the families living there is to deal with waste, collecting things that can be recycled or material that can be sold. It is important to note that waste picking and management affect Roma's health [7, 8]. These factors; health, their living conditions, the number of chronic illnesses some of them are afflicted by, as well as the violence they suffer, make the Roma residents very vulnerable . Furthermore, some of the Roma that live in the camp come from other evictions that have been happening all over Greece, and mainly in the Aspropyrgos area .
"There is extreme poverty, and isolation, and racism" , mentioned a representative of the Elefsina Legal Support Center in 2017. Many Roma in Greece, for example in the Nea Zoi settlement, live in sites with degrading human and environmental conditions, but the authorities do not alleviate the circumstances in which the residents live [5, 6]. Not only that but ghettoization was reported as being part of the national policy in Greece [5, 6], meaning that apart from discriminating and racist policies towards Roma, which end up in polluted sites and harmful environmental conditions, their segregation is ensured by the state.
In this context, it is important to note that the camp has faced several instances of eviction and harassment by Police and the Municipality, among other authorities of the area, but one of the periods where there was an allegedly constant stream of them was from 1999 to 2004 [1, 2, 3, 6]. As reported , large numbers of Roma in Greece lived in a state of racial segregation, experienced forced eviction, as well as the demolition of their homes. The platform qualified these instances as being part of Greek “cleaning operations”, as well as using the context of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens to demolish and evict the settlements, justifying it with the need to recover the land to construct some infrastructure for the Olympics [4, 5]. An instance that also afflicted several of the attempts of eviction in the Nea Zoi settlement. However, no Olympic facilities were ultimately constructed in the area . Meaning that the alleged construction and development of the site, as well as the operations that derivate from it, were done through a complex speech of "cleaning the area" and harassment of the Roma residents.
In February 1999, the municipality of Aspropyrgos and destroyed the settlement, later this operation was justified as the municipality receiving several complaints of the Roma illegally occupying potentially cultivated land. It is important to note that Nea Zoi is an industrial area [1, 2, 3, 5, 6]. Another case was in July 2000 when a municipal bulldozer demolished the whole camp [1, 2, 3, 5, 6]. The then-deputy mayor of Aspropyrgos, with the support of the mayor, stated that the municipal authorities had only torn down abandoned shacks and cleaned out the garbage found in the place .
The demolition of the houses was qualified by several platforms (that supported the Roma) as an eviction of the residents, and such it had to follow the legal procedure in case of evictions, something that the authorities did not do, and so the rights of the expulsed were not preserved [1, 2, 3, 6]. After several criminal cases and judicial procedures, the operation was still regarded by the authorities as “cleaning up” the area and not as a direct violation of Roma’s rights in the face of an eviction . This speech had clear racist connotations towards the residents in the area.
Other cases of constant harassment and threats of eviction in the Nea Zoi settlement over the years have been reported on further platforms [1, 2, 3, 6], all following patterns similar to the ones exposed here. As of 2021, the settlement is still there and the conditions in which the Roma population lives have not changed [7, 8].