- Title: Bulgaria's Roma say some coronavirus measures are discriminatory
- Date: 24th March 2020
- Summary: SOFIA, BULGARIA (MARCH 21, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE IN STREETS OF FAKULTETA DISTRICT OF SOFIA, WHERE MOST OF THE RESIDENTS ARE ROMA, WHERE ACCESS HAS NOT BEEN RESTRICTED BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES POLICE CAR DRIVING THROUGH STREET VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING IN STREETS PEOPLE STANDING ON ROOF CAR PARKED IN DISTRICT WOMAN STANDING WITH CHILD WEARING RESPIRATOR PEOPLE WALKING (SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) 58-YEAR OLD FAKULTETA RESIDENT, EMIL MIHAYLOV, SAYING: "The European Commission should be informed. On what grounds are they closing the Roma districts? Who gives them the right (to do so)?" (SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) 60-YEAR OLD FAKULTETA RESIDENT, FIDANKA KIRILOVA, SAYING: "Well, we feel the tension. Last night they said they would close the neighbourhood so we wouldn't have contact with the centre (of Sofia). Well, what are we, we're humans too, we're not cattle." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE IN STREETS
- Keywords: Bulgaria Roma areas Roma community coronavirus outbreak police controls
- Reuters ID: LVA002C6EVDJB
- Location: KAZANLAK, NOVA ZAGORA AND SOFIA, BULGARIA
- City: KAZANLAK, NOVA ZAGORA AND SOFIA, BULGARIA
- Country: Bulgaria
- Duration: 00:01:29
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: Like many other countries in Europe, Bulgaria has introduced strict restrictions such as curbs on travel between cities, closures of schools and restaurants, and a ban on foreign and domestic holiday trips to curb the spread of coronavirus.
But the towns of Nova Zagora, Kazanlak, Sliven and Roman have gone further, by cordoning off Roma areas within city limits, sometimes using makeshift walls to block off roads.
These steps to limit the movement of large numbers of people in and out of the enclaves have raised fears of discrimination against Roma people.
Kazanlak mayor Galina Stoyanova said restricting access to an area in her town where many of the inhabitants are Roma, and having police check people entering and exiting was being done for local residents' safety.
Kazanlak resident Dimitar Banev said people in the neighbourhood were happy to help in cooperating with the authorities.
Many Bulgarian Roma are said to have returned from Western Europe in recent weeks as the coronavirus spreads around the continent.
Authorities in Bulgaria have said the Roma - Europe's biggest ethnic minority that rights groups say often suffers prejudice and social exclusion - are not following social distancing rules sufficiently, requiring additional measures.
Nikolay Grozev, the mayor of Nova Zagora, said he had had to prevent people leaving the city's sixth district in large groups.
In the Sofia district of Fakulteta, an area largely populated by Roma but which has not seen any cordons, residents expressed their discomfort with the measures taken in other cities.
Fifty-eight year-old Fakulteta resident Emil Mihaylov said he thought the European Commission should get involved.
Sixty year-old fellow resident Fidanka Kirilova also complained, saying there had been discussions about preventing contact between the district and centre of the Bulgarian capital. "We're humans too, we're not cattle," Kirilova said.
According to the 2011 census, some 325,000 Roma people live in Bulgaria - a country of 7 million. The European Commission, however, estimates there are more than twice as many Roma - about 750,000 people.
(Production: Malgorzata Wojtunik, Lewis Macdonald)
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