The Roma settlement near the Transcarpathian city of Berehove, not far from the border with Hungary, is the largest in Ukraine. More than 6,000 Roma live in the camp. In Berehove, as in other parts of the country, the Roma are segregated in settlements that, according to foreign observers, are reminiscent of ghettos.
According to NGOs, there are about 400,000 Roma in Ukraine. They are the most deprived national minority in the country, living in abject poverty and deprived of elementary sanitation and healthcare. Many inhabitants of the Berehove camp have no documents because they cannot afford the fees to obtain identity papers.
Chekmenev described his experience in the camp: "From the moment I arrived I was surrounded by a crowd. They were asking me for money or clothes, or to help get someone out of prison. The Roma try to make use of everything. There is a Reformed Church building in the middle of the camp. They go there not because they are religious, but because the church distributes humanitarian aid from Europe. About one-third of children from the camp go to the local primary and middle school. There are 790 school-aged children registered with social services, but no more than 250 of them attend the school. Also, many girls quit because of early pregnancy. Children go to school because they are hungry, and the school provides free breakfasts paid for by Malteser International."