#SaveRomafromCorona : Protect Romani Communities from a Catastrophe
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In a time where the Coronavirus (COVID-19) threats the entire world and especially the most vulnerable among us, the European Union, its member states, international institutions and civil society must act in solidarity and unite forces to protect all people living in Europe and take special care of vulnerable groups.
Most of the estimated 12 million Romani people in Europe live in precarious situations without access to clean water, adequate housing, health services or the financial means for good nutrition. Independent from the current epidemic, Romani people are already facing discrimination in their access to adequate housing, health and social services based on antigypsyism, the specific form of racism towards people with Romani background.
For that reason, Romani people are especially exposed to the severe consequences of a COVID-19 infection and precarious Romani settlements risk becoming hot spots of the epidemic.
The COVID-19 epidemic requires immediate and comprehensive measures from Governments. However, this must not be the occasion to deploy discriminatory measures against ethnic minorities and feed racist stereotypes against Roma. Regrettably, this is already the case in a number of European countries, such as Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, Serbia and North-Macedonia.
Neither making Romani people the scapegoat for the virus, nor locking up Romani settlements and depriving them of the urgently needed medical support, social services and food provisions will solve the crisis. The contrary is the truth.
It is important to take preventive measures in order to mitigate the potentially severe consequences of COVID-19 for vulnerable groups, especially Roma communities. Not acting now will make us complicit in this disaster!
We call on:
The European Commission and its President, Ms. Ursula von der Leyen
The Council of the EU and its presidency
The European Council and its president Charles Michel
The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Dunja Mijatović
The High Commissioner for Human Rights Office of the United Nations and its Commissioner Ms. Michelle Bachelet Jeria
The World Health Organization and its Director-General, Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights and its Director, Mr. Michael O’Flaherty
- make the protective and preventive measures against COVID-19 equally accessible for all people living in Europe, independent from their nationality, ethnicity, religious belief or residency status;
- publicly condemn and actively counter public discourse making Romani people the scapegoats of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- call on the Members States to ensure access to food, drinking water, protective equipment and health care services to Romani people living in poverty and isolated communities;
- call on the Members States to immediately stop all discriminatory measures against people with Romani background in European countries;
- make COVID-19 emergency funding from the EU and other international organizations available targeted to Roma communities in precarious situations in Europe;
- integrate aid for Romani communities at risk into the COVID-19 civil protection mechanism of the EU.
We call on the European Governments to:
- stop all racist and ethnicized measures taken against people with Romani background in the context of the fight against COVID-19;
- publicly condemn public discourse making Romani people the scapegoats of the COVID-19 epidemic and protect Romani people from racist violence;
- map marginalized Romani settlements at risk of becoming hot spots of the epidemic;
- develop an emergency plan of additional assistance for the identified settlements to implement immediately precautionary measures to reduce infections with COVID-19 and provide the medical support in cases of infection;
- ensure participation of representatives of Romani communities in the planning and implementation of emergency measures against COVID-19;
- investigate cases of police brutality against Romani people when implementing the containment measure against COVID-19
 The Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey, Roma - Selected Findings
E.g. In Slovakia, the mayor of Kosice, Jaroslav Polacek, warned the society that Roma can spread the coronavirus accusing them of "socially unadaptable people". In other villages and towns, the inhabitants called the police and gendarmerie to take special measures against Roma in segregated communities, asking to put them in prison as the only solution to stop the spread of coronavirus. The same happens in Bulgaria, where the nationalist VMRO party called for strict measures on people with Romani background, or in Romania, where Roma are blamed and made the scapegoat for the spread of the virus
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