The human rights organisation Amnesty International is calling on the EU to enforce changes in Italy’s treatment of its marginalised Roma communities, by initiating an infringement procedure against Italy for clearly breaching EU anti-discrimination law.
In a blog post, Amnesty International researcher Matteo De Bellis describes his visit to the Giugliano Roma camp on the outskirts of Naples.
Authorities deem one Roma encampment uninhabitable, only to move residents to another segregated camp far away from basic services, and sometimes into conditions no human should be forced to live in – such as in Giugliano and Ciampino
“A toddler, stumbling barefoot through thick mud is luckily not a common sight in modern-day Europe. But during a recent visit to a segregated camp built specifically to house Roma on the outskirts of Naples, this is exactly what I saw.”
He goes on to say that “the Giugliano camp, set up by the local municipality next to a landfill containing toxic waste, illustrates clearly the hopeless situation Roma are forced into by Italy’s unwillingness to provide adequate accommodation for its Romani population.”
The Giugliano camp is not an isolated incident: there are men, women and children in a Roma-only camp next to Ciampino airport runway in Rome, who also haven’t been provided with suitable alternative accommodation.
There have also been forced evictions of hundreds of residents from the camps of Lungo Stura Lazio in Turin and Via Idro in Milan in the last year, and De Bellis states tha “the pattern is now firmly engrained. Authorities deem one Roma encampment uninhabitable, only to move residents to another segregated camp far away from basic services, and sometimes into conditions no human should be forced to live in – such as in Giugliano and Ciampino. Then, after neglecting this new camp for years, authorities cite health and safety concerns and forcibly evict Romani families yet again to another inadequate settlement – often a fresh segregated camp.”
Italy’s publicised National Strategy for Roma Inclusion (NSRI) aimed towards addressing this imbalance, and open the doors to adequate housing that Romani communities desperately need. However, four years into its implementation, and the problem persists.
Following International Roma Day Amnesty is calling on EU Commissioners to live up to their stated commitment to the rule of law and send a decisive message that the enforced segregation of Roma within the Italian housing system will not be tolerated.
“The halls of the European Union may appear far removed from the thick mud of the Giugliano Roma camp. Commissioners must bridge that gap and force Italy to move Roma away from toxic waste and airport runways, and into the adequate housing the children of Giugliano have the right to enjoy," states Amnesty.
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