More than 400 pro-Roma and Romani organisations and activists including a number of Albanian entities have condemned Russia’s war on Ukraine and demanded that human rights be upheld.
In a statement, signed by stakeholders from all over the world, they call for governments and world leaders to provide equal access to humanitarian aid to all those impacted by the conflict, including Roma and other marginalised and vulnerable individuals.
According to government sources, there are at least 50,000 Roma living in Ukraine, the majority of which do not have any formal documentation.
“From the Second World War to the Balkan Wars of the late 1990s, history has shown us that in times of war or conflict, the plight of Roma as well as other minorities is continuously ignored. Ethnic minorities are often rendered invisible and further victimised instead of being provided equal protection”, the statement reads.
They note that among those stranded and bombed are Roma, those of African descent, stateless people, migrants, women, elderly, sick and disabled, and children in the care of the state.
As a part of the statement, they call on authorities to ensure that the 400,000 vulnerable are granted equal protection and safety when seeking refuge, as well as guaranteeing equal access to aid and assistance. They also asked that attention be paid to the monitoring of human rights abuses against Roma and other groups, and that the UN work closely with communities to ensure they do not face discrimination.
In terms of the media, they stated that they, along with politicians should not use the war to promote “inflammatory, racist portrayals of marginalised groups, including Roma” as it increases stigmatisation and promotes the risk of additional violence against them.
“We in civil society will continue to collect information on the situation of Roma in and out of Ukraine, including evidence of allegations of discrimination or other human rights violations and to keep relevant European, international institutions and treaty bodies informed,” it concludes.
Albanian signatories include Roma Active Albania, the Institute of Romani Culture in Albania, Youth Voice Network of Organizations in Albania, Balkan Youth Activism, Useful to Albanian Women, Committee on National Minorities, Child Rights Centre Albania, Voice of Roma in Albania, Youth for Social Changes, Vatra, and several well-known Roma and human rights activists.