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December 12, 2019
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Italy: Children and Pregnant Romani Women Left Homeless

15.6.2017 17:10
Thirteen-year-old Alex and his family were among 1 300 Romani people who were evicted from the Gianturco camp in June 2017. (PHOTO: www.errc.org, Alex Sturrock)
Thirteen-year-old Alex and his family were among 1 300 Romani people who were evicted from the Gianturco camp in June 2017. (PHOTO: www.errc.org, Alex Sturrock)

Unlawful demolitions of Romani property in Italy are rendering members of that community homeless, including newborns and pregnant women. Most recently Romani people were driven from the Germagnano informal settlement in Turin two weeks ago, according to the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), based in Budapest.

The ERRC is working with Amnesty International to push for “the European Commission to finally launch legal proceedings against Italy to prevent further forced evictions and segregation.” According to the ERRC, the latest report about Italy by the European Commission does not mention issues concerning  Romani people.

In one case, the demolition of Romani houses began when a nine-year old boy was still sleeping in one such dwelling. The ERRC reports that “Witnesses reported that he was saved only when his mother shouted at the bulldozer to stop.”

The incident at Germagnano mirrors a similar forced eviction of the Gianturco settlement that occurred on 7 April 2017. Many Roma throughout Italy fear leaving their communities because they may never be allowed to return to them.

Amnesty International’s public campaign wants Italian authorities to confer with Romani residents in excluded settlements and ghettos in order to create sustainable housing strategies. According to the British newspaper The Independent, Amnesty demands “plans that comply with international and regional human rights standards and are consistent with Italy’s National Strategy for Roma Inclusion."

"The call [for these plans] has already gathered nearly 15 000 appeals that have been sent to the local municipality and the Italian Interior Minister,” Amnesty reported. The ERRC also reported that “Two hundred and fifty forced evictions were carried out against Roma by Italian authorities in 2016 alone.”

Action to improve this situation is meeting with some difficulty, as an estimated 21 900 refugees from Libya arrived in Italy during the first quarter of 2017. In addition to the increasing number of refugees seeking asylum in Italy, The Independent reports that “Italy’s own citizens face hardship amid high unemployment, which currently sits at 11.1 per cent, and the highest public debt in the Eurozone after Greece – about 132 per cent of GDP.”

Djenne Dickens
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Roma, Italy, human rights, Homeless people, Housing



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