Slumdogs of Slovakia: This city was given £51million when it was named European capital of culture… so why are Roma children still living in such horrifying squalor?

Kosice, Slovakia, won £50million to improve country’s infrastructure when it was named 2013 Capital of Culture
Heartbreaking pictures show the suburb of Lunik IX where around 8,000 Slovakian Roma live, many of them children
Destitute images show children covered in dirt playing in rubbish and the filthy apartments they live in
Many live without gas, water or electricity in the area – where almost 100 per cent of its residents are unemployed

These heartbreaking pictures show the squalid conditions that thousands of Roma children are forced to call home in the city of Kosice, Slovakia.
The city, the largest in eastern Slovakia, received £51million when it was named the European Capital of Culture 2013 alongside Marseille, France. The money is to be invested into the city’s infrastructure, creative industries and tourism.
However, in the suburb of Lunik IX around 8,000 Slovakian Roma, most of them children, live in squalor in one of the world’s worst slums.
In many of the pictures, piles of rubbish can be see surrounding the blocks of flats where the children live.
With little else to do, some – often covered in dirt and wearing clothes full of holes, play among the filth.
Graffiti can be seen scrawled across the walls with dirty washing and old furniture left on many balconies.
Some reports have suggested that the level of rubbish in the area has led to many water sources turning toxic – a problem that is beginning to affect the rest of the city and not just the Roma suburb.
Almost all of the apartments are without running water as a majority of those living there cannot afford to pay water bills.
There is one tap in the area when residents may collect running water. It is monitored by police.
In one image a little girl can be seen sat alone on a flight of stairs, presumably leading to her family’s apartment. In another, a boy can be seen smoking while in others young men swear at the camera.
Luník IX, located in the west of the city, is home to the largest Roma community in Slovakia.
The 106-hectre suburb was originally built for 2,500, but its population is thought to be around three times that figure. The area become so densely overpopulated after another nearby Roma suburb was demolished in 1979.
A vast majority, if not all of the area’s inhabitants are unemployed with many living without gas and electric as they are unable to pay bills.
Common illnesses such as hepatitis, head lice, diarrhoea, scabies and meningitis are common in the suburb – which has one elementary school and a kindergarten.
The Roma ghetto is a stark contrast to the rest of the city – which is situated on the river Hornád, at the eastern reaches of the Slovak Ore Mountains.
The city boasts three universities, various dioceses, and many museums, galleries, and theaters, but it was once known for its heavy industry. To this day, the largest employer in Kosice is the steel mill.
The town, population of 240,000, has extensive railway connections and an international airport – which are set to be improved with the European Capital of Culture grant.
In 2008 Košice won the competition to hold the prestigious title European Capital of Culture 2013.
A total transformation of Košice from a centre of heavy industry to a postindustrial city with creative potential and new cultural infrastructure is expected to take place with the £51million grant.
Project leaders hope to bring a strong creative economy to the city – merging industry with arts, design, media, architecture, music and film production, IT technologies, creative tourism.

Source and pictures: Daily Mail Online
Date: 17.11.2013

1 Antwort auf „Slumdogs of Slovakia: This city was given £51million when it was named European capital of culture… so why are Roma children still living in such horrifying squalor?“

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