EU highlights plight of Roma refugees from Ukraine ahead of International Roma Day

EU highlights plight of Roma refugees from Ukraine ahead of International Roma Day

April 7, 2022

The EU has called on Member States to provide inclusive and targeted support for Roma populations fleeing the Russian aggression in Ukraine.

“We know that in times of crisis, vulnerable groups are hit particularly hard. Among the millions of people seeking refuge in the EU and neighbouring countries from Putin’s war, 100,000 are estimated to be Roma. The number of internally displaced persons is also increasing dramatically,” said a statement issued ahead of International Roma Day on 8 April, by European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Vĕra Jourová, Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, and Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Olivér Várhelyi.

“This year, as we have seen war return to Europe, we are marking International Roma Day in a spirit of enhanced solidarity. Solidarity with people fleeing the brutal war waged by Putin; solidarity with Ukrainians, including Ukrainian Roma; and solidarity with those at greatest risk and in urgent need of help.

The statement commended the solidarity of EU governments and citizens in providing emergency civil protection assistance and support, both to internally displaced persons and at the borders. “People fleeing war must always be able to find a safe place and shelter, regardless of racial or ethnic origin, colour, religion or belief, or sexual orientation. This is particularly important for Roma people, some of whom are stateless and might not always have the relevant documents such as ID or passport,” the statement said.

“Today, we call on the Member States to implement all measures under the newly adopted National Roma Strategic Frameworks, including those for people in crisis situations. National services must provide inclusive and targeted support to Roma, including in associated third countries, such as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova. The European Commission will continue to do its outmost to help EU governments throughout this challenging period, by ensuring funds are easily and rapidly available.”

Roma are Europe’s largest ethnic minority community, with a strong 10-12 million population, out of which more than 6 million are living in the EU. There are also sizeable Roma communities in the enlargement and Eastern Partnership region. The World Romani Union and the Council of Europe estimate that there are around 400,000 Roma living in Ukraine.

As a significant number of Roma in Ukraine are stateless or do not possess adequate ID documents, concerns have been raised by civil society organizations that this could result in additional difficulties for Roma fleeing the war. A report from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights stated that it found no incidents of discrimination or racism, but urged for vigilance on this matter. At EU border crossing points, people seeking refuge are not required to show personal identification documents.

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