From: Alice Taylor
Little Improvement for Roma and Egyptian Communities in Albania

Members of the Roma and Egyptian communities in Albania are consistently targets of hate speech and discrimination. 

The findings of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) report welcomes some progress in some areas but raised a number of significant concerns.

Noting that these communities are “the most socially marginalised and excluded”, they found that they experience obstacles in access to education, employment, and housing.

In 2015, the Albanian government adopted a National Action Plan for the Integration of Roma and Egyptians 2016-2020. The ECRI noted that work had been done to tackle the problem of low educational achievements such as enrolling over 13,000 children in compulsory education. This, they said was a “very positive development” for which the authorities should be commended. Unfortunately, the number is still “far too low” and the government should work to close the enrolment gap between members of those communities and other children.

They also noted that the discrepancy between enrolment rates and attendance rates needs to be addressed as there is no reliable data on the latter. The ECRI also found instances of segregation of Roma and Egyptian students in several locations in the country.

It also noted the “unsatisfactory” number of Roma or Egyptian educators in schools across the country. The training of teachers on the management of multicultural classes and cooperation with parents from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds has severely declined. The ECRI had previously suggested that a review of the curricula and textbooks be conducted to reflect tolerance and intercultural attitudes but no progress has been made so far. 

The situation is also dire in the field of employment where unemployment or informal employment levels remain high. 56% of Roma are unemployed and despite the budget being doubled for courses to assist with employment, the results were far from satisfactory. 

In terms of housing, the ECRI called it “extremely difficult”. Poor conditions, lack of ownership and secure tenancy arrangements made them vulnerable to evictions. Due to increase development in Albania, many members of these communities have been pressured to abandon their homes or have been forcibly evicted without any additional solution being provided.

They noted the evictions at Bregu i Lumit in Tirana where the Municipality did not give the required notice of 30 days prior to the eviction. They wrote how the police arrived earlier than announced and used disproportionate force and tear gas against residents.  No alternative housing had been offered, they wrote. The fact that the Municipality has “ignored” the notice period was “particularly worrying” and that all evictees should be rehoused in decent accommodation. It also condemned the use of “unlawful, unnecessary, or disproportionate force during evictions.”

Recommendations that the ECRI had made to improve the situation for these communities had not been fulfilled.