Report: Falling through the cracks

ERGO Network analyses SDG 10 for report ‘Falling through the cracks: exposing inequalities in the EU and beyond’

ERGO Network’s chapter “Reducing Inequalities between Roma and Non-Roma: EU, SDG 10 and Combating Exclusion of Roma”, is published as part of a bigger report “Falling through the Cracks – Exposing Inequalities in the EU and beyond”, published by SDG Watch Europe, Make Europe Sustainable for All and Faces of Inequality. Besides our chapter dedicated to Roma inclusion, issues such as environmental injustice towards Roma are addressed throguhout the whole report.

SDG 10 – ‘To reduce inequalities within and between countries’ – is highly relevant for Roma. The goal is being reviewed in 2019 in the UN-led process that monitors progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. SDG indicators could potentially be used in the future by the creators of new Roma related policies, as currently all analyses of Roma-related policies show that a lack of concrete and measurable indicators lead to the failure of national Roma-related policies. The SDG indicators .  The chapter written by ERGO Network looks at issues where there is a strong overlap between SDG Goal 10 and EU ‘Roma objectives’.

We as civil society have taken the opportunity to provide yet another analysis of inequality that affects Roma people across the European Union. We use this moment to present concrete policy recommendations to the EU and the UN agenda simultaneously. Our purpose is to provide information and proposals to address inequalities effectively.

Download the report here.

Exchange visit to Nevo Parudimos

Exchange visit to Nevo Parudimos

From 5 to 9 June 2019 ERGO Network visited Nevo Parudimos in their town of Resita in Romania, along with members from all over Europe to learn about the invaluable work Nevo Parudimos is doing in their country for their local Roma communities. Among the fellow member organizations who attended were staff from Pavee Point in Ireland, FAGIC from Spain, and RomanoNet and Life Together from the Czech Republic.

Once there everyone visited Nevo’s office where Daniel Grebeldinger presented the different projects they are involved in.

This includes youth work, social work, rural development policy and many volunteering projects. Nevo Parudimos is currently hosting 18 international volunteers and works with many local volunteers who support local schools, kindergartens, elderly homes and more. Another focus of the organization is on building local partnerships that benefit Roma communities, the municipality as a whole and the organization.

The participants also had the opportunity to drive though Resita visiting local Roma communities and hearing more about their specific issues and the work that Nevo Parudimos is doing to support them. The day closed with discussing what the other ERGO members could learn from Nevo Parudimos, how they deal with similar challenges and how they could get involved in Nevo’s projects.

The next day the group visited Dognacea, a village in the surrounding mountains that are governed by probably the only Roma woman mayor in the country, Elena Moise. Everyone was greeted with open arms when entering her office, she was so welcoming and willing to answer any questions we had. Elena Moise was previously a local school teacher

and for the last 12 years has taken the position of mayor.  After our conversations with her, it is safe to say she is an amazing and inspiring woman and her work is has changed the lives of many people in her village. Especially for the children in the schools, she is a role model who tells them to be proud of themselves. She said that whenever she feels down she goes to visit the local school to speak with the children to cheer up. Her message to us was that it is important to take up roles such as hers in order to do good for our communities, not to be scared of anyone and to be proud of what we do.

On the last evening, we all participated in a networking dinner to meet with Neo Parudimos’ partners, to make contacts and build relations between people working for the same cause. We met with Nadia Potoceanu, the president of Fundatia Activity for Sustainable Development, Lidia Rosianu, the head of the social department of the Municipality of Resita, Cristrian Chioncel, the Vice Dean of Eftimie Murgu University of Resita and Adrian Constantin, director of the Roma Radio Broadcast in Radio Resita.

Everyone left on the morning of the 9th to their respective countries. The exchange visit proved to be a success with our member organizations, and ERGO plans to organize similar visits to other members in the next years. This type of event is very important for our work to learn about the problems faced by Roma in different countries and to learn how local organizations are trying to find solutions to these problems.

Acts of Antigypsyism in Ukraine

On May 27th, an open discussion was organized by the International Charitable Organization Roma Women Fund Chiricli to discuss the racial attacks that have happened in the past, the event was called “A year after Roma pogroms: where are we now?”. The purpose of the event was to discuss past hate crimes, talk about how these attacks can manifest and to examine how to help the victims of these attacks in the hopes they can continue on with their lives as best they can. Thereby honouring the victims.

Among the guest speakers were Matthew Schaaf, (Director of the Freedom House in Ukraine) Vyacheslav Likhachev, (Head of the Monitoring Group on the Rights of National Minorities) Konstantin Tarasenko, (Head of the Human Rights Department of the National Police of Ukraine) Julian Kondur, (project coordinator of the Roma Women’s Fund Chiricli.)

It’s important to note before the event started, two members of the far-right movement were seen close to the venue, the Ukrainian crisis media centre on Khreshyatik street. Upon seeing these people near a Roma event the organizers requested assistance from Patrol Police as it was already known these same people had been involved in disrupting and dismantling public events related to Roma previously with the use of violence.

The discussion went off to a good start, the event had gathered attention because of the important topic so there was a sizeable audience. Despite this just as the second speaker finished his statement it was then followed by interruptions from the audience, by two men who identified themselves as patriots.

Their interventions were aggressive and discussion came to a halt as it was clear they could not continue further. In addition, one of the men clothed in camouflage revealed from his bag in front of the audience and speakers, an axe, two screwdrivers and two bottles of whiskey. This action was accompanied by the narrative that these items were taken from Roma who had allegedly used these items to attack people. The man in camouflage introduced himself as Sergey Yarosh.

This awful public display of racism was ended shortly after the police officers arrived at the venue. The perpetrators were gradually pacified and made to leave the building. However the discussion, unfortunately, could not be continued despite several efforts of the moderator to do so, as speakers were repeatedly interrupted and everyone was left shocked by the events that unfolded.

In conclusion, the event was disrupted by members of a far-right organization in Ukraine. Their exact affiliation or involvement in a specific organization was not clear, but they have been continually spotted near Roma related events. The perpetrators of this racial attack utilized public space and use of media to publicly display their hatred for Roma to an audience, they criminalized them without any real evidence or just cause.

These so-called patriots specifically attended this event in the hopes to destroy it and stop it from happening. It’s hard to fathom how they could justify attending an event that was set up to open discussion to address the violent attacks happening in our community, by brandishing weapons and speaking aggressively directed to Roma communities, their voices filled with hate. Racism against Roma is often described as the last acceptable form of racism, this act reinforces that premise.

Letter to UN Secretary General on lead poisoning in Kosovo

Letter to UN Secretary General on lead poisoning in Kosovo  – 18th of February 2019.

Last week 55 Members of the European Parliament from various political groups sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The letter urges the UNSG to take long overdue steps to ensure that the victims of widespread lead poisoning at UN-run camps in Kosovo receive individual compensation, adequate health care and educational support. The UN’s role in the violation of the rights of these people has been clearly documented by the Human Rights Advisory Panel (HRAP). The affected Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in Kosovo have been struggling to care for sick family members who were exposed to toxic lead for more than a decade. The current Trust Fund, however, falls short of offering individual compensation and no member state has so far contributed to it.

Read here the full Letter to the UN Secretary-General

(Photo credit/ARMEND NIMANI)

Strong European Parliament call to address antigypsyism

Strong European Parliament call to address antigypsyism

Brussels, 13 February 2019 – The Alliance Against Antigypsyism welcomes the adoption of a European Parliament Resolution yesterday calling the EU and Member States to adopt strong Roma inclusion plans post-2020 and to step up the fight against antigypsyism – the specific form of racism towards Roma.

“This Resolution is a step forward in the recognition of antigypsyism as the root cause of social exclusion of Roma”, said Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of the European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network. “We now need both the European Commission and EU Member States to take that commitment forward when they develop future Roma inclusion plans to be implemented from 2020 onwards.”

The Resolution calls for a number of measures to improve the EU Roma Framework after 2020, including: a stronger focus on antigypsyism and a specific goal on non-discrimination; the involvement of Roma in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Roma inclusion strategies; ensuring that intersectional discrimination, gender mainstreaming and a child-centred approach are properly addressed; and the inclusion of a truth, recognition and reconciliation process.

When revising National Roma Integration Strategies, EU Member States should recognise antigypsyism as a form of racism and ensure appropriate sanctions, in line with national anti-discrimination and anti-racism legislative frameworks. Member States should also make sure that they allocate adequate national funding to measures for Roma inclusion and for combating antigypsyism, in addition to European funds.

In addition, although the Resolution acknowledges the importance of involving Roma in the design of the EU Framework, there is a need for a proper mechanism, including financial resources, to ensure that lip service is not paid to Roma participation.

“The European Parliament’s involvement with Roma issues was key to the adoption of the first EU Framework for Roma Integration Strategies in 2011”, said Michaël Privot, Director of the European Network Against Racism. “We welcome the European Parliament’s commitment to ensuring that the future European Commission continues the work done so far on Roma issues at EU and national level.”

For further information, contact:

ERGO Network: Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, Executive Director, g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.orgTel: +32(0)2 893 10 49

European Network Against Racism (ENAR): Georgina Siklossy, Senior Communication and Press Officer, georgina@enar-eu.org – Tel: +32 (0)2 229 35 70 – Mobile: +32 (0)473 490 531

Central Council of German Sinti and Roma: Jonathan Mack, Policy Officer, jonathan.mack@sintiundroma.deTel: +49 (0) 6221 981101

Notes to the editor:

  1. The ‘Alliance against Antigypsyism’ is a coalition of organisations across Europe that promote equality of rights for Roma and combat antigypsyism on institutional and societal level. The aim of the Alliance is to advance understanding of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism, and to strengthen the political will and institutional mechanisms in order to tackle antigypsyism in Europe. The Alliance is coordinated by the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, the European Network against Racism (ENAR) and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.
  2. The European Parliament Resolution on the need for a strengthened post-2020 Strategic EU Framework for National Inclusion Strategies and stepping up the fight against anti-Gypsyism is available here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B8-2019-0098&format=XML&language=EN