Cabiny Roma at heart of civil action
The political party, the Roma Civil Initiative (RCI) expressed concern over a petition by the civil action group, New Alternative. The petition is targeted against Roma moving into Medzilaborce.
Homeless Roma, presently living in shack houses between the villages Nagov and Rokytovce, are likely to continue living in these conditions until the dispute between the petition supporters and the municipality authorities to house them in Medzilaborce is settled.
RCI recognises the right of the citizens to protest by way of a petition, however, they argue that the subject of the protest must not breach fundamental human rights embodied in the Slovak Constitution or other international covenants Slovakia is a party to.
V4 activities under investigation
The activities of a Romani agency co-ordinating a pilot project aimed at improving the employment potential of the Roma in Visegrad 4 countries is under police investigation. The investigation is concerned with the flow of "dirty" money from Belarus and the potential disappearance of financial state support through the entrepreneurial activities of Milan Scuka back in Belarus.
According to the information available to CER, Scuka, who held the managerial responsibility of running the agency, is the central figure in the investigation. Scuka, an entrepreneur in Belarus and originally a Czech citizen, established a reputation for having close ties with the Lukašenka regime. The assembly of the agency is currently preparing the re-registration of the project. Scuka resigned from his position shortly after the media took interest in the affair.
Poverty disclosed in recent research
According to the National Report on Human Development issued by the Centre for Economic Development and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 11 per cent of Slovakia's population lives in poverty. The most vulnerable groups are the unemployed, the elderly, single-parent families, the homeless and Roma.
According to the Report, children and the unemployed are the worst off. In 1991, there were 10.41 per cent single-parent families, but in 2001 the number indicates a rise to 15.5 per cent. The total number of children that suffer from poverty, living in poor conditions, is 16.7 per cent out of the total population of children. However, some qualified estimates speak of 25 per cent and consider the 16.7 per cent as too low to describe the real situation. The legally approved monthly living minimum for one adult person is estimated at Sk 3490 (approximately USD 94).
Hunger strike in Jászladányi
Five members of the Roma self-government in the town Jászladányi went on a hunger strike for three days. The hunger strike began on Monday and ended on Wednesday at six in the evening. The protesters addressed the issue of the discrimination against members of the Romani community and other "socially weak" citizens who live there.
They are concerned about the eventual opening of a private school in the village. According to information available to CER, the protesters are concerned with the increasing segregation of poor Roma and other indigent citizens from the rich and non-Roma in the village. According to one of the protesters, this would lead, in the long run, to a worsening of the ethnic relations in the village.
Eva Sobotka, 5 March 2001
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