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International Roma Day 2022: time to topple anti-gypsyism

Roma people

“Fifty-one years after the first World Roma Congress of 8 April 1971, racism and discrimination against Roma and Travellers remain alarmingly rife in Europe,” declared Petra Bayr, the Parliamentary Assembly’s General Rapporteur on combating racism and intolerance, on the occasion of International Roma Day 2022.

“Nowhere has this been more evident in recent times than in the appalling reports received regarding some border officials’ refusal to allow Roma refugees, who are fleeing Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine, the right either to leave Ukraine or to enter neighbouring States,” she said. “Such refusals are based on spurious grounds, and notably on racist assumptions that Roma are not ‘genuine’ refugees. In other cases, lack of ID – a longstanding issue for Roma in many European States – has made border crossings more difficult. In addition, some Roma who have been able to leave Ukraine have also been confronted with racism in receiving States, including segregation, unfavourable treatment compared with other refugees, and racist attitudes among law-enforcement officials, volunteers or the population more generally.”

“We urgently need to move beyond these anti-gypsyist attitudes. First and very simply, because no one should ever be subject to racism or discrimination. And second, because stereotypes and prejudice prevent us from seeing the contributions that Roma and Travellers make to European societies every day. In Ukraine, Roma are participating actively in combating the armed aggression against their country, and in receiving States, they are contributing substantially to the enormous humanitarian efforts now under way,” said Ms Bayr.

“Today, we express our solidarity with Ukrainian Roma, and with all persons working to guarantee them safety and shelter. Now, more than ever, it is time to topple racist stereotypes. Let us stamp out anti-gypsyism once and for all.”