(story and photo: Geza J. Holzinger)
Lunik IX is the largest Roma ghetto in Europe, located on the outskirts of Kosice in eastern Slovakia. This is a collection of perhaps a half dozen Communist-era apartment blocks, housing approximately six or seven thousand people. The unemployment is 99% and the Roma´s have no chance of getting a job, but the whole area there are not enough employment opportunities.
Lunik IX ethnically mixed when it opened in the early 1980s, the neighborhood is now entirely Roma as a result of policies pursued by local authorities, who moved Roma from elsewhere in Kosice and the surrounding villages here while moving “non-problematic” families out. Lunik IX already existed and ironically backs then it was a modern suburb for the elite. Slovakians built this settlement; gypsies now completely devastated their houses.
Water supply is limited for one hour twice a day, no electricity in a lot of flat and no heating and gas. Windows are smashed out, garbage is heaped anywhere anyone feels like throwing it. Behind the houses run the rats on the piles of garbage and sometimes even go into the homes.
Some blocks of flats have already been demolished, but the residents do not know where can to evacuate the gypsies, because the Slovakian and Hungarian population will not allow themselves among they. Congestion is increasing in the flats; some multi-family homes can live together, sometimes even twenty people in fifty square.
The local government has no idea what they could do with this problem.