In Romania, “modern slaves” burn harmful trash to earn a living

Vidra, Romania (AP) — In a slum of Sintesti within 16 km of the Romanian capital, Mihaibratu lives in a dangerous life for a Roman family in the burning odor of plastic that clogs air day and night. I’m collecting.

Like many in this community, for him, illegally igniting anything that contains metal, including metal, from computers to tires to electrical cables, seems to be his only way to survive.

“We sell it to people who buy metal, we are poor … we have to work hard for a week or two to get a kilogram of metal,” said the old. 34-year-old Bratu, sitting on a wooden cart, said the Associated Press. “We are having a hard time feeding our children … the rich have a villa. Look at the rich palace.”

You don’t have to look far.

The main road, which runs through the Vidra Commune’s predominantly Roman village of Sintesti, is lined with ornate semi-finished villas and is dotted with shiny SUVs. Behind the area where Brab and his young children live lies a social black hole with no sanitation or running water. The two worlds are strongly connected.

For Octavian Verseanu, the government’s Environmental Protection Agency, the new head of the Romanian National Environmental Guard, the pollution from the illegal fires burning here was so severe that it launched regular attacks in the community. It goes beyond “modern slavery”.

“This is a kind of slavery. People living here do not have the opportunity to go to school, get jobs in very close cities, and have no official power grid, water, roads or other infrastructure. Verseanu He told The Associated Press on a police escort tour in April.

The slums of Sintesti, like the Roma community elsewhere, have long been ignored by authorities. They consist of temporary housing, with informally equipped electrical cables hugging the ground and running over a sea of ​​garbage.

“For years, they were somehow allowed to do this dirty work. No one came here in the past. To see what’s going on.”

One day in April during a local patrol, authorities seized a van loaded with 5,000 kilograms of illegal copper. This is equivalent to 40,000 euros ($ 48,000). It’s a small gear in the local illegal metal recycling industry, highlighting the tremendous revenue it can bring to wealthy homeowners.

However, according to environmental officials, in addition to significant social illness, fires can significantly increase Bucharest’s pollution, potentially 20-30%, and sometimes raise air quality to dangerous levels. ..

“Smoke particles are carried on a 10-mile wind. It’s like rain in Bucharest, destroying the air quality of the capital. It’s 100 times more dangerous than wood particles — a lot of toxic ingredients. There is, “Berceanu said.

During a late afternoon patrol in Sintesti, AP journalists joined Verseanu and four policemen and returned home to a stimulating cloud of smoke over the Hotchpotch dwelling. The noisy spectacle occurred until an elderly woman sitting down was persuaded to put out the fire with water — exposing precious metal debris.

“If local governments do not apply the law, of course, people of all ethnicities are encouraged to continue what they are doing,” said a sociologist and non-Roman-focused non-governmentalist. -Government agency.

Focusing on pollution from the Roma community, Duminica is a “scapegoat” and political “branding campaign” instead of more than one million cars in large corporations and the densely populated 2 million capital. Is part of.

“Everywhere in the world, the poorest people use marginal resources to survive. We have a range of causes: low education, low infrastructure, low development … many are low,” Duminica said. Ta

“The rich Rome dominates the poor, but the rich Rome is dominated by others. It’s probably a big surprise to see who leads and who controls things. Let’s not treat it as a problem. “

In the future, environmental managers hope that surveillance drones with pollution sensors and infrared cameras will help to better depict how networks work.

“We are working on organized crime, which is very difficult,” he said. “If you solve this problem here, very close to Bucharest, you can solve all sorts of similar problems across the country.”

Floria, a local resident, refused to give her a name, but said she was 40, so she and her community had no choice due to lack of official documentation, education, and options.

“We don’t want to do this. (Communist dictator Nicolae) Can you give us a job like Ceausescu? They come by bus and car and take us to town. I will work, “she told The Associated Press. “Gypsy are considered the worst people no matter where we go or what we do.”

Mihai Bratu blames local governments for the plight of his community, lack of roads, and lack of action.

“The mayor won’t help us!” He shouts as the little boy moves the building materials from Bratu’s carriage to the muddy yard next door.

“What do we have? What can we do? A small house? — Whatever God has given us.”