Czech town closes residential hotel, creates a new ghetto
A new ghetto is now arising in the northern Bohemian town of Varnsdorf. The area is filling up with people who have left a municipally-run residential hotel after the town leadership tightened the conditions for accommodation there.
Many people moved out of the facility at the beginning of the year due to the change and it is reportedly no longer viable for the town to run and staff both of its residential hotel buildings, one on Lounská and one on Masarykova Street. Yesterday the town closed the residential hotel on Lounská Street, saying it would retain ownership of the building for a different use later on.
The town is relocating the remaining tenants into the Masarykova Street building. Martin Šimáček, director of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, has sharply criticized the move, saying he believes concentrating the remaining tenants in one place will once again cause serious problems and could escalate ethnic tensions in the town.
"This could mean protests, once again, against the residential hotel tenants, and this could once again appear to be a conflict between the majority in Varnsdorf and the Romani minority, but it is a conflict that can be prevented and the town should have already solved this problem," Šimáček told Czech Radio's online news server rozhlas.cz. "The town has always had the tools to solve it, they have received an endless number of offers of collaboration from both the Agency and from nonprofit organizations. I don't understand why the town is not taking advantage of this."
The mayor of Varnsdorf told rozhlas.cz that the town will being collaborating with one nonprofit organization in particular within the next few weeks and that it will create neighborhood patrols from within the ranks of the Romani community to work in the ghetto as of 1 May. Long-term residents of Varnsdorf, however, said they consider the town leadership's plans to be a cheap, completely insufficient gesture.
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