BUCHAREST - The erection of a concrete wall between a Roma gypsy neighborhood and a main road in northern Romania has led a human rights group to accuse the town of trying to set up a ghetto.
Catalin Chereches, the 32-year-old mayor of Baia Mare, told Reuters on Friday the plan was not discriminatory and the wall's height of 1.8 meters (six feet) was designed to prevent traffic accidents.
"It's only aimed at protecting our citizens against car crashes," Chereches said by telephone. "It's made of coated concrete instead of wood to stop people using it to make a fire."
The vast majority of Romania's Roma gypsy population live on the margins of society in abject poverty and pro-democracy organizations say the state does not do enough to prevent discrimination.