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Northern Ireland - Race attacks spark opening of refugee centre

A new education and welfare centre has been opened in Belfast to provide children from the Romanian community with specialist help and support.

The centre in south Belfast has been established following a series of racist attacks against the community last year, which forced families to flee their homes. In one incident, more than 100 people were forced to take refuge in a church.

Nikola Nikolae, manager of the new centre, said people left because they felt they had nowhere to turn. "That is why we opened this centre," he said. "There are between 250 and 300 Romanians living here - including the Roma population.

"We will offer them support with housing, education and welfare rights, as well as whatever general help we can give."

There were 169 reports of racist incidents in south Belfast last year against minority groups, mainly from Eastern Europe. mr.

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