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Winter chill pulls plug on Roma protest in Malmö

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Winter chill pulls plug on Roma protest in Malmö
Police at the camp in central Malmö last week. Photo: John Alexander Sahlin/TT
12:30 CET+01:00
A Roma protest in Malmö has ended, almost three weeks after a group of several dozen migrants set up camp outside city hall following the bulldozing of a controversial tent site.

The high-profile protest in Sweden's third-largest city began on November 3rd, after police evacuated and tore down a controversial shanty camp where around 200 people – mostly Roma from Romania and Bulgaria – had been sleeping rough.

Since then, around 50-100 migrants and activists have been staging a protest outside Malmö's city hall.

However, on Monday, campaigners behind the action announced that the frosty weather had forced them to bring the protest to an end, after temperatures dropped below zero over the weekend.

"It's mainly because of the weather," Johanna Nilsson of the Network for Roma Rights ('Nätverket för romers rättigheter') told regional newspaper Sydsvenskan.

Her comments came as charities and individuals pitch in to offer temporary housing for the Roma people as the Nordic nights grow colder.

"The solution we currently have is short-term. We assert that authorities must help give them roof over their heads," said Nilsson, who is set to travel to Stockholm on Thursday to meet with representatives with the Network for Roma EU Migrants ('Nätverket för romska EU-migranter).

"We're going to take the issue of the homeless Roma to a national and international level," she added.

Meanwhile, organizations were also stepping in to provide shelter for refugees arriving in Sweden from the Middle East and Africa. The Johannes Church in Malmö kept its doors open to frozen groups failing to find beds at Sweden's Migration Agency's offices.

"I never thought I would live to see this, that we have to step in to manage the responsibilites that really belong to the state. It's a new time," clergyman Per Kristiansson told the TT newswire.

A total of 8,552 asylum seekers arrived in Sweden last week, down from 10,553 the week before. Up to 190,000 refugees are expected to arrive in the country over the whole of 2015.

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