Ukraine moves Roma families after girl’s murder triggers ransacking

LOSHCHINOVKA, Ukraine, Aug. 29 (UPI) — Ukrainian officials moved several Roma families out of a village in the Odessa region Monday after their homes were ransacked in the wake of allegations a Roma man raped and killed a girl.

The 9-year-old girl’s body was found Saturday in a dilapidated building.

A 21-year-old Roma man is accused of the slaying.

Local neighbors ransacked six houses that were occupied by 12 Roma families and demanded their eviction. Roma families escaped unharmed, according to local media reports.

Buses moved the more than 50 Roma to new housing, Valentyna Stoykova, head of Izmayil district, told the news channel 112 Ukrayina.

“They themselves understand that they cannot continue living in the village. And our task is to keep them safe,” Stoykova said Sunday. “We ask everyone to stay away from any kind of actions against them.”

Yuri Shishmash, the deputy of the district, urged non-Roma “to stay away from any kind of actions against them.”

Two of the Roma families owned their homes.

Roma, also known as Gypsies, are concentrated in eastern, former communist countries.

More than 70 percent are poor and discrimination is rife, according to The World Bank.

“Although many of these families reside in highly developed countries they nonetheless have to cope with levels of poverty and deprivation on par with the poorest areas of the world, and face bleak economic prospects due to persistent unemployment and low levels of education,” the organization said on its website. “The gap between a Roma family and an average European family broadens every day.”

Most Roma in Europe “experience discrimination each day,” according to European Roma Rights Center.

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