European rights chief warns Roma, Travellers at high risk in pandemic

Paris – Europe's top human rights official on Tuesday called for governments to ensure that Roma and Traveller people can access health care and clean water during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Roma people living in substandard housing and segregated settlements across Europe were among those most vulnerable to the pandemic, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic warned.
"In many places in Europe, Roma still lack access to clean water and sanitation. This makes it very difficult to apply crucial hygiene measures such as regular hand washing," Mijatovic said in a statement marking International Roma Day.
The commissioner noted reports of Roma settlements in France losing access to electricity and water because site owners left due to lockdown rules.
All evictions should be stopped for the duration of the crisis, she urged.
Roma had also been "scapegoated and targeted by hate speech," Mijatovic warned.
She noted that in Bulgaria, politicians had called for special measures against Roma, local authorities had set up police checkpoints around settlements to enforce quarantine measures and, in one place, they put up a fence around a Roma settlement to control movements
"While action to ensure adherence to confinement rules can be justified in the present circumstances, these cannot be selectively applied to people, neither fully nor partially, on the basis of ethnicity," Mijatovic insisted.


Tuesday, April 7th 2020

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