Governor Markus Wallner (ÖVP) said after a local government session on Tuesday that the city of Dornbirn is looking into setting up accommodation for beggar families on are currently living on the streets, including members of the Roma ethnic minority.
However, he added that none of the Roma in Vorarlberg “are interested in learning the language, nobody is interested in genuine integration, no one is really interested in looking for work”.
He said Vorarlberg was just a stopping point on a begging route that runs from “Milan to Frankfurt”. He added that he had spoken with a priest who works with street children in Romania, who confirmed his view that the Roma in Vorarlberg are part of “a band of hardcore street professionals”.
Wallner said that he had pledged money for aid projects in Romania, which include helping street children, and that this was a better use of funds than helping Roma living on the streets in Vorarlberg.
Social workers and Roma groups in Vorarlberg have criticised the government’s attitude towards the Roma, saying that politicians are keen to imply that they are responsible for their own poverty and social exclusion – and therefore shouldn’t be helped.
Vorarlberg’s capital, Bregenz, is the latest city in the state to approve a begging ban, after Dornbirn and Bludenz.