FIVE Roma families who have squatted in front of the Slovak cabinet office say they would fear for their lives if they were to return to their home village of Ľubica, in eastern Slovakia.
A group of 22, including children, fled their homes one and a half years ago and travelled around Slovakia and the neighbouring Czech Republic but failed to find new homes. The Roma said they left Ľubica to escape local loan sharks, and that their current misery started with a loan for organizing the burial of one of their family members.
For a short time, the Roma lived in Dobšiná with their relatives, but for the second time in a few weeks, they returned to Bratislava to ask state officials to help them find new homes.
According to cabinet plenipotentiary for Roma issues Klára Orgovánová, Otto Dovjak, the mayor of Ľubica, has promised to give the Roma a shelter in a new social housing complex in his village.
But the Roma said they would not go back to Ľubica and asked the officials to place them near the town of Kežmarok, an area they consider safer for them.
The Roma now sleep in parks, after officials failed to find a temporary living space for them in Bratislava. Orgovánová said she offered them some money for food, but the Roma rejected the donation.
29. Sep 2003 at 0:00 | From press reports