Migrants displaced in South Belfast race attacks accommodated in student hostels

Romania Ambassador steps in for implementing sustainable solution


19 June 2009: The Embassy of Romania in London says measures discussed with the administrative bodies, police authorities and humanitarian organizations for providing haven to nearly 130 migrants displaced in South Belfast race attacks are in place; and the victims have all been accommodated.

The Embassy asserted the victims of extremist violence in Belfast, who asked for protection and assistance, have been accommodated in the student hostels of Queen’s University in Belfast.

The access to the area, where the Romanian citizens are being accommodated, is also being constantly supervised by the police forces.The Ambassador of Romania in the UK, Dr. Ion Jinga, has also arrived in Belfast; and is meeting the representatives of the local government, including the First Minister of Northern Ireland and his deputy, in order to settle the procedures to implement sustainable solutions.

Taking stock of the situation, the Embassy said all the displaced people, apart from two families, had their origin in Bihor County, Romania.

The Embassy also made clear its intention of following up on the events concerning the Romanian citizens of Roma origin in Belfast: It added the accommodation provided to the victims included “full board, medical assistance on request and special assistance for the approximately 40 children and teenagers”. A new baby born was also being looked after by the social workers; and others had further been provided with the necessary means to ensure maintenance of hygiene.

The representatives of the Northern Ireland Government and of the Belfast City Council were coordinating the implementation of the administrative decisions, in close cooperation with the representatives of the Embassy of Romania, it was added while appreciating the considerable support provided by the varsity management.

Dr Mihai Delcea, the Romanian Consul General, meanwhile, said the need was to “build bridges” between the displaced immigrants and the Northern Ireland community.

He was speaking after an emergency meeting at Stormont to discuss the future for the Romanian racist abuse victims.

Dr Delcea said he hoped to “establish co-operation” between both countries. “We are here to build bridges between our communities, between our societies, but not to dispute anything,” he added.

Dr Delcea said the families were feeling a little bit stressed. Their plans to stay back or leave were mixed, he asserted, adding some families had indicated they wanted to stay in Northern Ireland, but a number of others indicated a desire to return to their homeland.

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie, whom he met, also reiterated her condemnation of the racist attacks. “I totally abhor and condemn these acts of violence and we must move on to develop a shared society in Northern Ireland and develop that shared future because we must challenge the mindsets and attitudes and have respect for difference; and through our whole social and economic agenda we must build that shared future.

“The important thing is, and the fundamental issue is, that all of us listen….  We need to be a shared society and that is all about respect for political, ethnic and religious differences.”

Even as she spoke, a number of terrified victims said they were indeed desperate to get out of Ulster.

Some of the victims even alleged they were terrorised at gunpoint and told they would be shot, if they did not leave.

Expressing solidarity, the local residents have also been holding rallies to support the Romanians. The UDA and UVF have also condemned the attacks. A local UDA leader, Jackie McDonald, said they were trying to talk to young people to encourage them not to do what they were doing."

By Monika Journo

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