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Minister: Czech Agency to lead ‘motivated’ romanies out of ghetto

29 Maggio 2007 Commenti chiusi


The emerging Czech Agency for Romany Integration wants to focus on “motivated” Romany families, that is those whose children attend school, parents seek jobs, etc. and take them out of ghettoes, Minister for Ethnic Minorities Dzamila Sthelikova told today’s issue of daily Pravo.

“Don’t believe that all Romanies want to live on social benefits,” she said. The majority society cannot say “let them live there and don’t let us bother about them,” Stehlikova said. She said that shunning the ghetto issue solves nothing, and cited the example of France that “boasted of stately neighbourhoods on the edge of Paris.

The time bomb went off after decades, the minorities have not been integrated. Such situation does not threaten in the Czech Republic, yet it is a sort of warning,” Stehlikova said. She said that street workers and NGOs will deal with Romany families on an individual basis.

They will have to prevent their further social decline. They will see to it that they pay housing rents in time so that they do not run into debt. They will look to that children attend school and check how these people cooperate with the labour offices, Stehlikova said. All this should somehow be linked to the Romanies receiving social benefits, she added. Stehlikova said that integration will be no easy task and that it will take decades.

Stehlikova, who has lived in a strongly-Romany part of Chomutov, north Bohemia, for 18 years, said that she is sure “her” housing estate will not turn into a ghetto. Flowers have grown outside the house and no one dares to tear them, representatives of the majority society are not fleeing from the housing estate, which is good, she said. “Romany minorities inhabitants must not live isolated from the others,” Stehlikova told Pravo.

Stehlikova, a physician by training, said that she thinks that it is never pointless to help people, but the help must be effective. She said that the state policy has been a failure because it worked with one pattern and made it possible to abuse the social system.

Stehlikova said that problems at different places are different and that projects for particular municipalities will tailored through the agency. She said that no exact figures of Romanies living in the Czech Republic exist, but that a qualified estimate puts their total at 300,000 to 350,000. Stehlikova said that many Romanies do not claim their origin.

In Brno, for instance, about 17,000 Romanies live, but statistics speak about only 450 of them. Asked how she wants to motivate Romanies to seek jobs in regions where there are none even for “the whites,” Stehlikova said that retraining must be targeted. She said that even in regions with a high unemployment rate there are still vacancies that are filled by foreigners: Slovaks, Poles and others.

“Don’t let us try to turn Romanies into administrative workers or computer specialists,” Stehlikova said and added that retraining should be directed so that they could do jobs that are available.

© Prague Daily Monitor

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