In Madrid, a Roma community prepares for relocation

MADRID, Sept 28 (Reuters) - A makeshift camp dubbed the "Gallinero" was demolished on the outskirts of Madrid this week and its 150 Roma residents offered alternative accommodation, but for those who have known little else, the change is daunting.

"The new house will be better than this, but we grew up here. It feels strange," says Lipovehnch Bucurestean, 21, heavily pregnant with her second child.

Her toddler son picked through old toys strewn around their make-shift house as the Red Cross arrived to transport the family and their belongings to their new home.

Meanwhile, scrap collectors from another Roma community arrived in search of leftovers before bulldozers finished the three-day demolition.

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Roma community prepares for relocation
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Roma community prepares for relocation

Ramona Stan, 41, is comforted by a neighbour as she leaves El Gallinero shanty town to relocate to a new apartment in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters.

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Beckhan Stan, 10, waits to move out of El Gallinero shanty town and into a new apartment in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters.

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Marta Stan, 2, sleeps on the floor as her family moves into their new apartment after being relocated from El Gallinero shanty town in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

A drawing of a house hangs on the wall of an empty hut after its inhabitants left the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 25, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

A family prepares to leave the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 27, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Members of the Stan family leave their new apartment building behind as they head to check out their new neighbourhood, after being relocated from El Gallinero shanty town, in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

David Stan, 7, cries after having to give away his cat Coral before moving out of El Gallinero shanty town and into a new apartment in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

David Stan, 7, and his sister Beatriz, 9, play at a playground outside their new apartment after being relocated from El Gallinero shanty town in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters.

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

David Stan, 7, tries to hide his cat Coral in his backpack as he waits to move out of El Gallinero shanty town and into a new apartment in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Veronica Radu, 24, reacts as she leaves the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 27, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Veronica Radu, 24, sits in her bedroom as she waits to be relocated from the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 27, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Stejar Stan, 43, reacts as he sees his home demolished a day after he was relocated from the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 27, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Members of the Stan family shop at their new neighbourhood supermarket after being relocated from El Gallinero shanty town in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

The Stan children check out their new neighbourhood from their balcony after being relocated from El Gallinero shanty town into a public housing apartment in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

A scrap collector walks on roofs of empty huts after their inhabitants left the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 25, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Stejar Stan, 43, climbs the stairs with the family� belongings after being relocated from El Gallinero shanty town and into a new apartment in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

A police officer walks amidst debris as a truck tows an abandoned car at the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 27, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Dayana Stan, 6, feels cold as she waits to move out of El Gallinero shanty town and into a new apartment in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Members of the Stan family rest surrounded by their belongings in their new apartment after being relocated from El Gallinero shanty town in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

A man puts out a bonfire before leaving the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 27, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Shoes are displayed outside a hut as its inhabitants prepare to move out of the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 25, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Veronica Radu, 24, reacts as she leaves the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 27, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

A police officer walks amidst debris as a truck tows an abandoned car at the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 27, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

An empty hut is seen after its inhabitants left the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 25, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Children look for toys to salvage from the debris of the Stan family's hut after it was demolished in El Gallinero shanty town on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

A bulldozer demolishes the remaining huts at the Roma shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, September 27, 2018.

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Ramona Stan, 41, is comforted by a neighbour as she leaves El Gallinero shanty town to relocate to a new apartment in Madrid, Spain, September 26, 2018. The Stan family was one of the last Roma families left in the shanty town of El Gallinero, on the outskirts of Madrid. After years of living in ramshackle huts in precarious conditions, the Roma camp was dismantled this week, and its remaining inhabitants relocated to public housing flats or temporary shelters. 

(REUTERS/Susana Vera)

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The "Gallinero" or "chicken coop" had stood on the side of a motorway leading out of the capital since the early 2000s, a fragile mass of corrugated roofs, mangled wires and rotting garbage.

But some residents were uneasy with relocation plans outlined by authorities last year which include social housing and temporary shelters around the capital.

One of the relocated families, the Stans, will rent a state-owned flat in southern Madrid at a subsidized 75 euros ($86.80) a month.

The house is well-equipped and clean, in contrast to the fiber-board walls and open sewage gutters at the campsite. Still, the family said they felt unsettled and had already heard neighbors express reservations about their arrival.

"Mum cried when we left the camp," said Beatriz, one of nine children at the flat, as volunteers helped set out their furniture.

Her parents arrived in Spain from Țăndărei, Romania, 17 years ago and had lived in the Gallinero for most of their time since. "She's scared someone will take us," Beatriz said.

"We aren't dirty," said Dayana, 6, hinting at the prejudice her family have sometimes faced outside of their tight-knit Roma community.

There are around 725,000-750,000 ethnic Roma living in Spain, according to the charity Minority Rights, making it one of the largest communities of its kind in Europe.

Roma from Romania make up a significant part of that number and, as Europeans, are permitted to live and work in Spain without visas.

($1 = 0.8639 euros)

(Reporting by Isabel Woodford and Susana Vera; editing by Paul Day and Jason Neely)

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