THE CITY of Prešov in eastern Slovakia has built an eight-metre long concrete wall near a Roma settlement which prevents those residents from taking a shortcut into the city across a green area directly across from their settlement. The city built the wall in response to various complaints by non-Roma citizens about thefts from their properties and attacks against older people and children, the SITA newswire reported.
Roma who were accustomed to using this route consider the wall, which is two-and-a-half meters high, as discrimination and they plan to turn to European institutions to challenge its construction.
“The problem started as long as ten years ago and is connected to the construction of lower standard homes in this location,” said Marta Kollárová, the Prešov city council member for the district, as quoted by SITA.
The city moved Roma residents from dilapidated homes in the city centre to new residential buildings in the area but the entire original project, with various services for the new buildings, was not completed, SITA wrote. It added that more than one thousand Roma now live in the area.
“We continuously received complaints; citizens also wrote a petition,” Kollárová said.
She said that the wall, which cost €2,000, is technically the easiest solution and will contribute to a lower crime rate but added that the problem needs to be solved comprehensively.
Roma living in the adjacent settlement consider the wall to be discrimination focused directly against them and said their route into the city will now be about 30 minutes longer. They have contacted Roma organisations which they hope will take their complaints to European institutions, SITA wrote.
20. Sep 2010 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff