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June 25, 2022



CNN: Romani refugees from Ukraine are discriminated against in Poland

27.4.2022 12:04
Roma refugees from Ukraine in Poland (2022) (PHOTO: CNN)
Roma refugees from Ukraine in Poland (2022) (PHOTO: CNN)

CNN reporters have documented discrimination in Poland against Romani refugees from Ukraine. As in the Czech Republic, it is a problem for Romani refugees to find suitable accommodation.

“We move from residential hotel to residential hotel, they don't want us anywhere. They treat us completely differently than ethnic Ukrainians. My children and I see other Ukrainians leaving residential hotels to move into rented apartments or houses,” Romani refugee Maša Gorniak, who fled with her children from a small town near Lviv, told CNN. 

Gorniak's husband has stayed in Ukraine and is fighting against the Russian occupiers. While the vast majority of the refugees being allowed into Poland these days are Ukrainian citizens, the Roma are not considered "white". 

Polish Romani nonprofit organizations are doing their best to help Romani refugees. "There is a big problem with how Romani refugees are treated in Poland," Rajmund Siwak, a Romani volunteer who visits residential hotels and brings together the Romani families for whom his organization is trying to find accommodation, told CNN.

"Yes, it is racism, open, unconcealed racism," Joanna Talewicz, the head of one of the Romani nonprofits, told CNN. "Nobody wants to take them in, no one in the whole of Poland. Even a sublease cannot be secured for them, not even if they are able to afford it," she noted sadly, adding that she did eventually manage to find three homes for Roma refugees in Poland so far.

Romani families are quite big, usually, and it is difficult to find accommodation suitable for them, Talewicz told CNN. "During a war, though, in these terrible conditions, we must help all of the refugees. I never thought we would face such racism during this war. I was very naive," she told CNN.

What do the European Commission and the Polish authorities contacted by CNN say about the situation in Poland? The City of Warsaw  claimed it has not received any complaints from the Romani community and has therefore not investigated any. 

The Polish Interior Ministry told CNN that it is "in constant contact with representatives of the Romani community". European Union officials said they visited the border areas of Poland and other countries bordering Ukraine in early March and found no discrimination or racism at that time.

mar, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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