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Czech towns unable to solve Romany housing problem-survey

Brno, 12.12.2008 18:32, (ROMEA)

Housing is the greatest problem Czech Romanies and other residents of socially excluded localities face and local authorities are unable to solve the problem as there is no law on social housing in the Czech Republic, a survey conducted by Brno Masaryk University experts revealed.

The university researchers who conducted the survey at Romany settlements on the government's order have found out that neighbourly relations help soften the negative consequences of social exclusion, Irena Kasparova from Masaryk University told journalists today.

The experts examined the situation of Romanies and other residents in selected ghettos in Brno and other south and north Moravian towns.

They lived together with the people in excluded localities from April till October and tried not only to describe their problems, but also to understand the way of their thinking, Kasparova said.

According to Katerina Sidiropulu Janku, the experts revealed that the ghettos of socially excluded people often appear in former industrial and workers' localities.

When town authorities want to improve the life of their residents, build new houses for them and move them there, which outwardly seems as a suitable solution, the consequences are usually negative, she said.

"By this they sever their relations with their neighbours that usually took one or even two generations to establish, as well as their relationship to their environment," Janku said.

Romanies and other socially excluded people usually meet a far more hostile and racial environment in the places of their new residence, she said.

The experts summed up the results of their research in a 400-page book describing the life of Romanies in the monitored localities.

According to the authors, it is a unique material because the researchers lived with the socially-excluded people for many months, established close contacts with them which enabled them to describe their problems and their motivation.

Dzamila Stehlikova, minister in charge of human rights and ethnic minorities, said all branches of the government's agency against social exclusion would work with the document.

"We will use the findings for a more efficient strategy aimed to promote employment, to improve the level of education and housing," she said.

The Czech government established the agency against social exclusion last January. Its employees now work in 12 pilot localities across the country. Their goal is to help improve the situation of people living in ghettos, mainly Romanies.

The expert study conducted by the Masaryk University researchers cost 1.6 million crowns. It will be upgraded in the future.

CTK
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