Ukrainian villagers collectively blame Roma for murder, destroy their homes, revoke their residency
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported yesterday that local authorities and media in Ukraine say a village there has decided to expel dozens of Romani families because of suspicions that a member of their community may have been responsible for the murder of a child. Police have arrested a 20-year-old Romani man on suspicion of murder there.
Ukraine's Public Defender of Rights called on authorities in Odessa and on police to settle the conflict and ensure order and safety in the village, where destruction, expulsions, illegal and manifest discrimination, and violence have occurred. Romani associations are also protesting the expulsion of the Roma residents.
The violence broke out in the village of Loshchynivka, which is near the port of Odessa in the south of the country, last Saturday after the body of the eight-year-old girl was found. Hundreds of villagers then rushed to destroy the Romani dwellings.
The dwellings were empty because their Romani occupants had already fled the village out of fear of such recriminations, so nobody else was physically harmed. On Sunday the village council approved a resolution stating that Romani people are no longer permitted to live there.
"That decision is not legal. Theoretically it cannot be enforced, they adopted it under pressure from the locals," Hennadiy Kryshko of the regional administration explained to the AFP.
Kryshko said the 50 Romani residents who had been living in the village have now accepted its decision despite its obvious illegality and have left the village, including three families who have lived there for approximately 20 years. Yesterday four of the expelled Romani women returned to the village to retrieve their property.
Police accompanied the women to ensure their safety. Kryshko said he did not have precise information about where the expelled Roma will now settle.
The Interfax-Ukraine Agency reported that the Romani residents' agreement to leave the village was a "compromise solution" because it was no longer possible for them to live there peacefully. According to the most recent census, approximately 50 000 Romani people total live in Ukraine.
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