Thursday, February 26, 2004

Brief Update Department

From the front page of today's Lidove noviny (by a correspondent in Kosice, not a wire report): "We Will Go to Czechia, Say Slovak Roma":

Yesterday, too, the situation in Romani settlements in central and eastern Slovakia was near a state of emergency. While the looting has ceased, thousands of police and soldiers are patrolling the area. Meanwhile the extent of the crisis forced the Slovak government to reduce the planned curtailment of welfare benefits. The minister of labor moreover declared that he wants to help the Roma by reducing the influence of usurers, who fleece them of most of their money. The situation remains tense. Many Roma have begun to speak in front of journalists of a plan to leave for Czechia. "The Czech Roma, they have the life. They've got Mercedes and enjoy themselves," the 50-year-old Pavol Stanko describes the mood.

According to officials, it was quiet yesterday on the Slovak-Czech border. But Romani activists in Ostrava, for instance, are talking about the risk of an exodus of Roma to Czechia, with Ostrava the most likely destination of the first wave. "As long as the disturbances continue, thousands of Roma will want to cross the border," said the chairman of the Moravian-Silesian Roma Civic Initiative, Frantisek Sivak.

More information on page 6.


Here is a PDF of the front page of today's Lidove noviny. The photo caption says: " 'THEY DID THIS TO ME.' Relatives in a Romani settlement on the outskirts of Trebisov, Slovakia, point out a bruise on the face of a Rom boy. They claim he sustained the injury in an intervention by police units."