A week after an 11-year old boy was fatally shot by a stray bullet during an open-air school party in Menidi, northwestern Athens, Public Order Minister Nikos Toskas said the issues in the area that led to the tragedy will take time to resolve.
In comments to Greek private TV channel ANT1, Toskas said the issues in Menidi are chronic and cannot be solved overnight, saying the problem goes beyond the issue of proper policing.
The local municipality, like many across Greece, had suffered from budget cuts in recent years. The cutbacks have affected a community outreach program geared towards improving the education and social integration of the country’s Roma community, many members of whom live in Menidi.
The program aimed to keep Roma children in school and operated in schools across Greece, including 10 in Menidi. It has been stymied, however following an 80 percent reduction in funding for the 2016-2018 period.
Mediators working as part of the outreach program, play a vital role in helping the children and their families. Stratos Angelopoulos, who works as a mediator, said the program had been going well and keeping dropout rates down before the massive cuts of the past two years which have left it struggling to continue keeping Roma children in school and away from crime and drugs.