Helsinki Youth Department urges police to empty Roma camp
The Roma refused the accommodation offered at the Hietaniemi service centre for the homeless
The Helsinki Youth Department reports that they are going to ask the police to help them evacuate the Roma camp in the Kalasatama area today.
”It is being considered very seriously”, said Lasse Siurala, the Director of the Youth Department on Wednesday evening.
According to Siurala, intervention by police is the last resort. Efforts to find other options were made late on Wednesday evening.
The Helsinki Rescue Department has imposed a moratorium on the use of the social centre building at Kalasatama for accommodation due to safety regulations.
Regardless of the ban, around 30 Roma continued to stay at the Kalasatama camp over the night between Wednesday and Thursday.
The Youth Department is responsible for the evacuation of the camp, and it will obey the orders given by the Rescue Department, said Siurala.
The conflict involving the Roma beggars has seen new turns at a fast tempo ever since the Roma returned to the Kalasatama area after the weather had become warmer in mid-March.
For a while, the fate of the Roma seemed to have been resolved when the City of Helsinki offered them temporary accommodation in the Hietaniemi service centre for the homeless on Wednesday.
However, the activists at the Satama social centre said in the afternoon that the Roma had rejected the accommodation offered by the City.
”They would rather stay in a place where they would have water, electricity, and where the authorities would not disturb them. Moreover, they would not like to take up space needed by homeless Finns”, reported Keiju Oksanen, one of the activists at the Satama social centre.
The Satama social centre staff and some non-governmental organisations criticise the fact that the Roma and the Finnish homeless have been placed in juxtaposition, when they are expected to compete for the space at the same service centre.
According to Jarmo Räihä, the chairman of the Roma working group with the City of Helsinki Social Services Department, the reasons named by the Roma for the refusal of accommodation offer were different.
Räihä notes that he received a written report from the service centre, which states that the Roma explained their decision to refuse the offered accommodation, as the service centre has neither enough parking space nor a possibility to cook.
Moreover, the Roma regarded the service centre and its environment as too guarded.
On Wednesday evening, the fate of the Roma camping in the Kalasatama area continued to be unclear.
”The camp has been reopened”, said Keiju Oksanen.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Roma in Kalasatama expected to reside with other homeless (30.3.2011)
Helsinki´s homeless people reject placement of Roma beggars at their shelters (29.3.2011)
What to do about the foreign Roma? (30.3.2011)
Helsinki residents no longer so shocked by - or so sympathetic towards - begging in the streets (25.5.2010)