Charity fears for Roma in Bulgaria

14 August 2015


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.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) update

The latest: Daily news updates

Get the free Church Times email bulletin


> Lift Up Your Hearts: 9 April (PDF download)

> All our recommended resources for prayer, worship, live streaming and more


Unable to get to the newsagent or pass on your copy of the Church Times as usual?

Get the paper delivered for the next few weeks

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)