The Alliance for Solidarity with the Sinti and Roma of Europe is alarmed: As a result of the Corona crisis, many Roma in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe are already fighting for survival. The situation is becoming even more acute. There is also a threat of pogroms and racist attacks.
The worldwide crisis triggered by the corona virus is hitting the Roma minority(s) in Europe particularly hard. Even before the crisis, they were often pushed to the margins of society and survival by structural and daily discrimination. The fight against the Covid-19 pandemic requires quick and effective political and administrative decisions, including the restriction of civil rights. However, in many countries, especially in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, fear of the pandemic is being misused to intensify the propaganda against Roma. Because of the initial restrictions, famine is threatening many communities. Old, revived resentments are leading to racist attacks and arbitrary repressive measures. The frequent lack of access to clean water and medical care has fatal consequences even for young, healthy people. We must take action!
According to reports in the Berliner Tagesspiegel of 26 March 2020, Roma in Bulgaria were accused of spreading the coronavirus, and their settlements in Nowa Sagora, Kasanlak and Sliwen with a total of about 50,000 people were subsequently sealed off and thus cut off from all medical aid and food supplies. The same demands are also being made in Romania, where – similar to Slovakia – many Roma settlements are permanently lacking access to drinking water. Racial profiling is also making an appearance: In Northern Macedonia, the border police forced only nine Roma musicians out of 200 travellers from Austria and Italy into quarantine, while the rest were released into domestic isolation. And in the Austrian cities of Linz and St. Pölten, local politicians of the right-wing populist FPÖ are stirring up hatred against Sinti and Roma. Romani Rose, chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, rightly demanded on 25 March 2020: "Roma cannot be abused again as scapegoats by nationalists and racists."
The Alliance for Solidarity with the Sinti and Roma of Europe observes with great concern these effects of the Corona crisis on Sinti and Roma. The (temporary) dismantling of fundamental rights such as freedom of movement is having a life-threatening effect on the situation of Roma, especially in Eastern and South-Eastern European countries.
The Alliance for Solidarity with the Sinti and Roma of Europe therefore demands:
1. The immediate protection of Roma and Sinti against racist incitement
We call on all European governments, media and local administrations to protect Roma and Sinti from racialization of the Corona crisis and related actions and attacks.
2. The immediate cessation of all discriminatory measures against Roma
We call on European policy-makers to respect and implement the democratic rights of all its citizens - and of the Roma and Sinti in particular, as vulnerable minorities.
3. The inclusion of Roma in support measures
Discrimination and social exclusion have led to a situation in which a large number of Roma work in informal jobs and companies that cannot continue to exist during the corona-related restrictions of public life. We call for the extension of support measures to marginalized groups and the provision of food, clean water and medical assistance.
Individual Alliance members have also taken important initiatives on the same issue:
Click here for the petition of Romeo Franz, Member of the European Parliament:
Click here for the joint statement of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma with other European organisations:Alle News