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July 23, 2018
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Slovak Romani people travelling to visit relatives not allowed on planes in Warsaw, some have lost their life savings

30.3.2017 6:43
A still photo from the TA3 reportage on Slovak Romani travellers not allowed to board their flight to Canada at the Warsaw airport in March 2017. (PHOTO:  TA3)
A still photo from the TA3 reportage on Slovak Romani travellers not allowed to board their flight to Canada at the Warsaw airport in March 2017. (PHOTO: TA3)

Several Romani women from the town of Levoča, Slovakia, who were attempting to visit relatives in Toronto, Canada were not allowed to board the planes for which they were ticketed at the airport in Warsaw for reasons that have yet to be ascertained and missed their flight. Canada had allegedly confirmed their eligbility to visit and given them all of the necessary documents for entry.

Slovak television station TA3 reported the news on 28 March in a reportage called "Were they the victims of racism? Roma from Levoča not allowed on plane." The behavior of the staff at the Warsaw airport is considered a shameless display of racism by those affected.

"We have many family members in Canada," Martina Šimoničová, one of the women harmed, told TA3. Another traveller, Mária Holubová, added that: "My daughter and my son each have their own children there - my grandchildren."

The unpleasant surprise awaited the travellers once they made it to the Warsaw airport. Staffers there, without giving any explanation, would not allow them to even check in.

"He did not explain anything to us," Holubová described the behavior of the customs officer. "When he saw we were heading his way to ask him why we couldn't check in, he just left."

The residents of Levoča claim they had paid all of their fees in advance and Canada had given them visas. Some claim to have spent their entire life savings on the costly air tickets, while others say they borrowed money to buy them.

Zuzana Dudušová, another woman affected, said her husband had earned the money for her ticket by performing strenuous labor. The money spent by the Romani travellers from Levoča has now gone to waste.

"It was about EUR 1 700," a tearful Holubová said in the reportage. "I seriously feel like crying. I haven't met my grandchildren in person yet."

The travellers have decided to ask the Warsaw airport to reimburse them for all of their costs and have complained to the Slovak Foreign Ministry. Because the airport is incorporated in Poland, the Slovak Foreign Ministry has no authority over it.

Despite that, the Slovak authorities are attempting to aid their citizens and are filing a complaint through the Embassy of the Slovak Republic with the Warsaw-based division of the Border Guard Service, which is the relevant authority in Poland. TA3 sought a statement on the incident from the administration of the Warsaw airport but had not received a response by the time the report was aired.

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Adéla Gálová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Kanada, Monitoring, Poland, Racism



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