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Charity fears for Roma in Bulgaria

14 August 2015

MISSION WITHOUT BORDERS

Foreboding: a Roma family stands in front of a home due to be demolished, in Dabnitsa, last month

Foreboding: a Roma family stands in front of a home due to be demolished, in Dabnitsa, last month

A CHRISTIAN charity has expressed concern for the people of Garmen, Bulgaria, after the State threatened to demolish four illegally occupied buildings.

Mission Without Borders, which operates in Eastern Europe, fears that the demolition would cause "ethnic tensions" in the region, after it was alleged that anti-social behaviour triggered fighting between Roma and other members of the Garmen community, in May.

Protests calling on the state to remove the Roma settlers went on for a month, before authorities were forced to finalise demolition procedures. The people have since refused to move their belongings.

The national manager of MWB, Carly Jones, said that the charity was "very distressed" about the situation in some Bulgarian villages: "It is the poorest people in the community that will be affected."

The charity is based in the village of Dabnitsa, 5km from Garmen, where it supports 130 families, besides providing additional aid to homeless and elderly people.

"The majority of families we support are Roma," Ms Jones said, "because they are generally the most vulnerable and marginalised. We have worked hard to build trust . . . and we support any efforts to ensure a peaceful and considered approach is adopted by Bulgarian authorities."

Bulgaria was forced to suspend the demolition of two of the Roma settlements last month, because of an appeal from the European Court of Human Rights.

Pressure from nationalist parties now suggests, however, that it will go ahead this time.

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