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Roma mothers and children from Luník IX call on Radičová for help

Children, young people and mothers from the impoverished, predominantly Roma neighbourhood of Luník IX in Košice have written an open letter to Prime Minister Iveta Radičová reminding her of the hopeless situation in which they find themselves, one that they compare to a social trap, teacher Gabriel Glovacký, who works with the Roma community at a private grammar school in Košice, told journalists on Tuesday, March 1.

Children, young people and mothers from the impoverished, predominantly Roma neighbourhood of Luník IX in Košice have written an open letter to Prime Minister Iveta Radičová reminding her of the hopeless situation in which they find themselves, one that they compare to a social trap, teacher Gabriel Glovacký, who works with the Roma community at a private grammar school in Košice, told journalists on Tuesday, March 1.

"Before the end of 1989, 94 percent of Roma in Luník IX were employed. Today, 94 percent of them are unemployed," said Glovacký. According to him, young people from the neighbourhood don't want to live like their parents, but can't see how they can change their lives. "People in Luník IX are indebted for maybe the next three or four generations. They live in flats in which water runs for one hour twice a day, but the debts for water, electricity and heat have reached millions," Glovacký said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. The teacher stressed that even employed Roma are not able to earn enough to get out of Luník IX and find modest housing elsewhere.

"If your skin is dark and your permanent residence is in Luník IX, you have no chance of getting a job," said the headmaster of Galaktická Street Grammar School in Košice, Anna Koptová. She added that there are enough educated Roma people these days, but they still face discrimination on the labour market. In the open letter, the mothers and their children tell Radičová that people living in Luník IX have to pay to live in the flats even though they don't have any lease documents. They pay €6 for electricity per day to City of Kosice collectors, which works out at almost €200 per month. "We're writing to the Prime Minister because we hope that the State Trade Inspectorate and other inspection bodies will carry out an in-depth probe at the Luník IX Office and at Kosice's Housing Association and that they'll find out who has been handling the city's flats in Luník IX for almost two decades so irresponsibly and why," added Glovacký.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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