Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe rapporteur: Instead of aiding Romani people during COVID-19, some European politicians are promoting antigypsyism
“Throughout Europe, there are Roma and Travellers living in desperately inadequate, insalubrious, unsafe conditions, without access to running water, sanitation or other public utilities, and often in a situation of severe overcrowding. Instead of seeking additional ways to protect these particularly vulnerable members of our societies as coronavirus spreads, some politicians have actively fuelled anti-Gypsyism,” says Czech MP František Kopřiva (Pirates), the rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on discrimination against Roma and Travellers in the area of housing.
"Preventive measures such as remaining at home, self-isolation, and regular hand-washing can become impossible under such circumstances, while access to disinfectant gels, face masks, and even basic information about preventive measures is frequently illusory," he added. “Coupled with an often poor state of health, which is itself in large part attributable to poor living conditions as well as high levels of poverty, this places these Roma and Travellers at particular risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus, and of becoming gravely ill from it. Tragically, some communities are already mourning multiple deaths among their members.”
“I was shocked to learn that, as lockdowns are increasingly imposed and public transport services reduced in many countries, some authorities have rejected proposals to facilitate access to welfare payments in isolated settlements. In parallel, social workers have had to reduce their activities in such areas as they lack the necessary equipment to ensure that they do not contribute to spreading the virus," the Rapporteur said.
“Every State’s human rights record is only as good as the situation of their least well-off citizens,” he added. “Roma and Travellers have been made vulnerable by centuries of neglect and discrimination in our societies. As the coronavirus crisis makes tragically clear, they now urgently need our care."
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