Reuters

The town of Baia Mare has relocated its Roma population to decrepit Communist-era buildings, and walled in their new home.

The Roma are the largest ethnic minority in the European Union. And most live as second class citizens, in abject poverty.

In the Romanian town of Baia Mare, a mayor has come up with a radical solution - he's rehousing families in dilapidated communist-era offices and building a wall that closes them in. This decision is popular with the locals - Catalin Chereches is now one of the the most popular politicians in Romania.

And Chereches says the move is a step up for many families. It gets them out of the slums "where naked children play in the dust with stray dogs and cats." As Chereches told Reuters, "It's clear, conditions there are not similar to the Hilton or Marriott. But this doesn't mean this is not a step forward towards their civilization and emancipation."

But Roma advocacy groups see it differently. "This is breaching human rights," Robert Vaszi, director of Roma rights group Asociatia Sanse Egale, told Reuters.

Below, photos of the slums and the wall. Photos by Reuters photographer Bogdan Cristel.

Ethnic Roma people are seen in their house at Craica slum in Baia Mare.
An ethnic Roma man walks down the stairs of a building at a wall-surrounded Roma neighborhood in Baia Mare.



Ethnic Roma people are seen in Craica slum in Baia Mare.



Ethnic Roma children play on the wall that surround a Roma neighborhood in Baia Mare.

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