European Roma and Travellers Forum calls summer demolitions of Romani dwellings "unprecedented"
The European Roma and Travellers Forum released a statement today called "Evictions Unlimited" on what it calls an "unprecedented upsurge" in the demolition of Romani housing and eviction of Romani people both in EU Member States and in countries such as Albania this summer. Whether the demolitions and evictions have involved the use of force or not, the ERTF says they have all been "marked by the policy of rejection".
The ERTF alleges that this policy aims to remove Romani people from the public sphere in Europe, giving the example of a recent eviction in France. According to the ERTF, NGOs such as the Fondation Abbé Pierre and Médecins du Monde had proposed a "self-funding project" to make the Romani settlement on the outskirts of Paris habitable, but the mayor refused, preferring to demolish it.
Françoise Dumont, chairperson of the French Ligue de Droits de l’Homme, is quoted by the ERTF as describing this approach as a “policy of stigmatizing and rejecting the Roma.” In France, according to the ERTF, 3 928 Romani people were forcibly evicted in 37 separate locations during the first half of this year, an average of 150 Romani people per week, with alternative accommodation reportedly offered in only "13 cases".
The ERTF believes official reasons for clearing Romani settlements camouflage "a more sinister purpose: getting rid of the Roma at all costs". It gives the example of a recent demolition in Bulgaria, nothing that while illegal constructions there are common, it is Romani houses that are "singled out for destruction".
In Albania, according to the ERTF, Romani people in Selita began a process to legalize their houses nine years ago which was then suspended so the demolition of the homes can proceed, ostensibly to build a highway. Authorities there have reportedly agreed to provide the evictees rent subsidies for two years as compensation.
The ERTF reports that in Italy, 10 Romani families were evicted on 24 July in Quaracchi from an area where they had lived since 2008, without any alternative accommodation being offered. In Cosenza, 100 Romani people are slated to be evicted from an apartment building and relocated to an official (segregated) camp, while inhabitants of a settlement in the Lazio region were evicted on 6 August and reportedly rendered homeless.
In Finland, the ERTF reports that according to news server yle.fi, the dismantling of illegal Romani-occupied camps in Helsinki is happening on a daily basis. Reportedly no alternative accommodation is being offered in their cases either.
The case of Romani evictions from the town of Miskolc in Hungary has already been condemned internationally, but according to the ERTF, the evictions there "continue unabated". The organization is calling on Romani people throughout Europe to protest this treatment.
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