This week, members of the Roma community in Tirana, Vlora, Elbasan and Korca have been protesting due to lack of food.
While the country is on lockdown with movement restricted for all but six hours of the day, the Roma community are hit hardest. Many make their money by litter picking, collecting scrap metals and other items and then selling them on. The government-mandated curfew means that they are unable to do this else they risk severe penalties.
One citizen told Ora News that the Tirana Municipality and government is doing nothing to help them. Because of this, they are unable to pay rent or buy food.
“We have no income whatsoever. We live from selling cans. We are left without bread. If we don’t work, we are left without food.”
“I ask for help for my children, the state does not listen…We agree with the measures but the conditions do not allow us to defend ourselves. We can’t wash, we don’t have soap, we don’t have disinfectant. We need government help.”
In Elbasan, those protesting. said that while food parcels had been handed out by the Municipality, it was done in a selective and unfair way. They said they had not received any financial aid or medical assistance.
The same concerns were echoed by the community in Vlora.
In Korca, Roma and Egyptians descended on the town hall to ask for bread. With no other way of making money due to the curfew, for many, this is the only option.
Albania’s Roma community is one of the most marginalised and discriminated against. Roma families are widely prejudiced in all areas from receiving welfare to healthcare, education, and employment and many live in abject poverty. While there are some laws in place to prevent this, they are rarely enforced and as such, these communities remain some of the most at-risk in the country.