Local authorities in Baia Mare, in northwest Romania, have stirred protests by deciding to erect a concrete wall around a block where a large number of Roma/Gypsy people is living, in order to "stop so many crimes from happening" in the area. The almost two-metre wall, stretching 100 metres and costed at around 7,300 euro, will have only one-access way, "so that everything related to the route can be conrolled", Baia Mare's mayor, Catalin Chereches, has said. Chereches stressed that the wall’s purpose is to “make order and discipline people in an turbulent area and also to protect children who should became victims of car accident”.
He added that a police station will be set up near the wall, where police and local Roma can work together “to keep public order under control”, according to media reports. Roma rights advocates oppose the planned measure, describing it as discriminatory and abusive. “This initiative of the authorities in Baia Mare is profoundly discriminatory and leads to Roma ghettoisation and humiliation by subjecting them to degrading treatment”, Romani Criss, a Roma organization, said in a press release. “If implemented, these measures would violate Romanian law, as well as the international human rights standards to which Romania is a party,” it added. Such actions are not isolated, however. Civic organization have documented other cases where local authorities in Romania have violated Roma people's right to decent housing through forced evictions and deliberate residential segregation.
The Roma community in Romania is struggling with discrimination, poor literacy rates and massive unemployment. Its official number is around 550,000, although it is widely believed that there are actually at least twice as many Roma in the country.
Many people of Roma origin do not declare their ethnicity due to the widespread prejudice that they face.