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Belgian city seeks answers on Slovak Roma migration to Belgium
18 Feb 2014 Flash News
THE MAYOR of the Belgian city of Gent has sent an open letter to the European Commission and the Belgian government in reaction to information that a wave of immigrants from the infamous Lunik IX neighbourhood in Košice is coming to the city.
The Slovak Catholic Charity confirmed this information for the Slovak media, citing its sister organisation in Gent, the Sme daily reported on February 17.
More than 1,700 Roma from Slovakia were living in Gent in 2012, according to Sme.
Mayor Daniel Termont wrote in his open letter that they are trying hard to integrate the immigrants, but the city has exceeded its capacities.
“We acknowledge the free movement of persons in the EU, but it should be clear that this internal mobility also has negative effects in our region,” Sme cited Termont’s letter. The mayor went on to blame the Slovak authorities for the exodus of Roma.
Gent is a multicultural city, with people of over 160 different nationalities residing there, Frank Phillips, Gent’s deputy mayor for migration, said as reported by Sme.
“We are a social city, but the increase of poverty we see here in the recent months and years is too much for a city like Gent,” the public-service RTVS quoted Philips. “We cannot take anymore, we need help. If Slovak Roma prefer to sleep in parks on benches or in deserted houses here in Gent, their situation in Košice or elsewhere in Slovakia must be very bad.”
Gent’s authorities are asking the government and the EC to investigate whether the information about another wave of Roma immigrants that appeared in the media is true, Sme wrote.
Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports
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