Join us at the EU Roma Week 2018!

Join us at the EU Roma Week 2018!

The EU Roma Week 2018 will take place in Brussels starting on 8 April, International Roma Day and continue until Thursday 12 April. A series of events will be organised during the week, including an event co-organised by ERGO Network on addressing From quality education to decent employment, Antigypsyism, Theatre peformance,  International Roma Day commemoration and celebration with concerts.

Click here to see the programme  of the EU Roma Week!

Register for the events by 3 April  here. 

French activists fighting against environmental violence and police brutality towards Roma and Gens du Voyage

French activists fighting against environmental violence and police brutality towards Roma and Gens du Voyage

ERGO Network visited its member La Voix des Rroms in France between March 16 and 18, 2018. The purpose of the visit was to take part in one of the meetings of the Rromani Resistance Movement, learn about the fights of the French Roma and Gens du Voyage and think together how we can support each other. The participants were activists from different regions of France: women from Northern France who organized themselves in their community to fight environmental violence, Roma from Paris, Saint Denis, Bordeaux, Nice, a sister and her friend who seek justice for Angelo, a man killed by the French police, Raymond Gurême a Roma genocide survivor with his daughter and many others.

Gens du Voyage women who fight environmental violence ask no more than for their right to health. Their camp is surrounded by factories and railways. The consequences of the bad position of their camp on their health are severe. In addition, the toilets are cold, outside of the premises they live in. They have talks with relevant authorities who are supposed to react, especially because there is a French law that does not allow the conditions this community lives in. Even though the process is slow, the women we talked to expect their camp to be moved sometimes next year. In general, in France, there are not enough caravan camps.

In this community in Northern France there are about 500 people not only at risk but already having health issues (skin problems, for example). The women have written to the mayor and are waiting for the response. A specialist is also going to access the consequences of these living conditions on the people’s health. These women activists are sending a message that they want to move their camp and to have toilets inside – all they want is their basic rights to be respected.

You can read more about the women living in Hallemes-Ronchin dedicated caravan sight in the suburbs of Lille we met, but also more about “a significant gap between the officially stated goals of such sights and the reality of life within them” in an article written by Lise Foisneau here.

Beside environmental violence, one of the big problems in France is police brutality. Aurelie, a sister of Angelo who was murdered by some French police officers, and few supporters formed “La justice pour Angelo” movement. On the 31st of March, in the city of Blois, Angelo Garand’s family and their supporters will march to remind the public that it is intolerable to kill someone just because he is a prisoner and a Roma. A month after the march, on April 30th, the judge will decide if there is enough evidence and if the police officers are going to be sent for a trial. More information about the case and the opportunities to support the cause can be found here  and here , and at the Facebook page of Angelo’s family.

Photo credit: Valentin Merlin 

After an exciting day and a half of learning, getting to know each other, learning more about the 16th of May – Rromani Resistance Day from our partner from La Voix des Rroms Saimir Mile and working in small groups following Tara Dickman’s and Anina Ciuciu’s presentation of community organizing methodology, figuring out the most efficient and effective next steps, Sunday was about connecting past and present, listening a research findings of Lise Foisneau and Valentin Merlin about the resistance of “Nomads” during the Second World War. The public in general lacks the knowledge about Roma genocide, but even less known is the resistance of the Roma, which was continuous and had both an individual as well as an organized dimension.

ERGO’s work and vision showcased

ERGO’s work and vision showcased

This video shows the achievements of the work done by the European Roma Grassroots organizations (ERGO) network and its members under the Framework Partnership Agreement 2014-2017 with DG Employment supported by the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation EaSI (2014-2020).

ERGO Network mobilizes and connects organizations and individuals who share a set of core values, to co-create the courage, capacity and approaches to: combat inequality, stigmatization and discrimination; strengthen Roma civil society participation in decision making at local, national and European level; commit governments and European institutions to effective anti-discrimination and social inclusion policies for Roma. ERGO has almost 30 members in more than 20 countries in Europe. Through its members ERGO became the only organization that brings the Roma grassroots voice directly to the EU institutions, but also helps the European institutions to understand better the needs of Romani communities.

Our dream is Roma to have the same opportunities like the non-Roma in education, employment and to all spheres of life and to be free from racism. In our opinion this can be happened only if we Roma take our lives in our hands.

Quotas from the video ;

“All people are humans, also Roma are humans” says Zuzana Havirova, Director of Roma Advocacy and Research Center from Slovakia

”If you want decide to be an activists then you are an activists by the heart” and “unite is power” said by Michal Miko member of SLOVO21 from the Czech Republic.

In video are featured:

JAMEN GABRIELA HRABANOVA (ERGO Network – Belgium)

ZUZANA HAVIROVA (Roma advocacy and Research center – Slovakia)

MICHAL MIKO (SLOVO 21 – Czech Republic)

IRINA SPATARU (Romano Centro -Austria)

Regional Consultation on Youth and Human Rights kicks off in Brussels

Regional Consultation on Youth and Human Rights kicks off in Brussels

The European Youth Forum and Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organized a Regional Consultation on Youth and Human Rights, in order to feed into a report on the same topic that will be prepared for the UN Human Rights Council later this year. ERGO Network was present at the 3 day meeting in Brussels, March 19-22.

In advance of the meeting, some background information was shared online to help participants prepare.  With a thematic questionnaire from the European Youth Forum, participants could get an insight in the organization`s submission to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ call for input for a study on youth and human rights.

The gathering brought together 22 participants from all over Europe from different youth networks, youth and student organizations as well as international associations. Together with EYF the aim was to give the opportunity to have in dept discussions during the event on a variety of topics that are related to youth rights, key challenges of young people, as well as framework, programs and policies designed by European actors, such as the Council of Europe and the EU.

The first panel discussion set the scene with the opening remarks delivered by representatives of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Youth Forum. It was important to mention some highlights regarding the current situation of human rights in Europe. Statistics and research show that today much of the continent’s public transport is not accessible, 70% of Roma report hunger and constant stigmatization, 30% of young people with black and Muslim origin don’t get a job because of their names, and youth homelessness is showing a slightly increasing tendency.

Good news is that Portugal’s efforts to create an inclusive environment to Roma and minorities serves as outstanding example. The Council of Europe with its interventions also strives to better shape policies for youth with its recommendations addressed to member states. The recommendations in question are regarding 1) access to social rights of young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods (2015); 2) youth work (2017); and young people’s access to rights (2017), the latter calling on governments to address discriminatory practises.

The key challenges that are faced by young people in Europe are present in all generations of human rights. According to Alice Barbieri (Council of Europe Advisory and Council on Youth), there is a great underrepresentation of youth at city councils, political bodies and parliaments in Europe, with only 2% of parlamentarians aged under 30 worldwide. Young people also lack education on active citizenship. Non-standard employment effects more the younger generations where the mandate is unpaid, unfair or the work is undeclared. This also means that employees are not part of the pension scheme and do not receive any social protection. It is a worrying trend to see that 30% of those aged 15-29 in EU live at the risk of social exclusion or poverty.

Amana Ferro (European Anti-Poverty Network) presented findings on key challenges for young people. According to her, the programs aimed at providing support to young people are present to some extent, but they do not function as comprehensive strategies to combat youth poverty, and do not serve as tools for great autonomy. Cash based income support is still widely considered as social benefit, however, in the European societies it serves as a key factor to social inclusion. Tamas Kadar (Equinet) introduced the framework of equality bodies in Europe, their practices and examples of discrimination.

Age restrictions take away opportunities in general from young people, and ethnic paygap remains an issue. It was highlighted that poverty is not a choice, and everyone has the right not to be poor. In order to cease poverty, one should have full ownership of life planning, and dealing with poverty shall be considered as fulfilling right rather than charity.

Key policies and programs targeting at EU, Council of Europe and UN levels outline a number of interventions in Europe and the world. Developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating policies and programs on youth is crucial in understanding the framework of contributing to youth rights.

The Erasmus+ program is funded by the EU to provide to over 4 million Europeans the opportunity to gain competences and have a personal, socio educational and professional development through studies, raining, work experiences or volunteering abroad. The EU Youth Strategy lays out a framework for European cooperation in the youth field in the period of 2010-2018, adding here that youth policy is a national competence of member states. The EU Youth Guarantee is a scheme that aims to ease the transition from education to employment by ensuring that all young people aged 25 or under, get a good – quality offer of employment, training or further education within 4 months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.

The Council of Europe (Committee of Ministers) has adopted two key recommendations relating to young people’s rights: CM/Rec(2016)7 on Young People’s Access to Rights and CM/Rec(2015)3 on Access of Young People from Disadvantaged Neighbourhoods to Social Rights. The latter focuses on policies to preent and eradicate the porverty, discrimination, violence and exclusion faced by young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, the former covers civil, political, economic, social and cultural rigths providing guidance to states.

The United Nations adopted in 1996 and updated in 2007, the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) outlines 15 priority areas of action. In 2015, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2250 (UNSCR 2250) on Youth, Peace, and Security.

Following the thematic sessions a final report will be put together by the European Youth Forum with the inputs and contributions of the youth representatives. The report aims to recommend measures at international level – such as member states, the UN Human Rights Council – that would facilitate support the realization of young people’s rights.

Joint Work for the Inclusion of Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Joint Work for the Inclusion of Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The EU Delegation / Office of the EU Special Representative in BiH, in cooperation with the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, organized on January 31, 2018, Seminar on the Inclusion of Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.

More than 80 representatives of local authorities, non-governmental and international organizations participated in the 4th Seminar on Roma Integration in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has made some progress in the integration of Roma in the area of housing and registration of citizens, but much still needs to be done in employment, education and health care, said the Roma Affairs Adviser at the European Commission’s Directorate for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Marta Garcia Fidalgo.

Minister of Human Rights and Refugees of BiH, Semih Borovac, emphasized that discrimination, prejudice and exclusion from social life continue to be the problems of Roma both in BiH and Europe, and that it warns of the importance of greater political engagement and commitment to the issue of inclusion of Roma in BiH and adequate separation money from the budget for the needs of this population.

Chairman of the Committee on Roma at the Council of Ministers of BiH, Mujo Fafulic, is grateful to international organizations and authorities in BiH (especially the line ministry) for money allocated for solving Roma problems, but also says that their problems are still not resolved.

Head of the EU Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative to BiH Lars Gunnar Wigemark emphasized in Sarajevo that resolving the position of the Roma minority in BiH is certainly a matter of national interest, and it is also important in the context of joining the European Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries Western Balkans.