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Human Rights Activists Urge Simplification of the Procedure for Obtaining Documents for the Displaced Roma

On April 8, 2015, the International Roma Day, representatives of non-governmental organizations urged authorities to pay attention to the problems of the displaced Roma. Statistics show that they are one of the most vulnerable categories of people living in Ukraine. This community, being one of the most discriminated social groups even in peacetime, is now subjected to double discrimination.

The monitoring results demonstrate that nearly 9,000 Roma have been forced to leave their homes in the east of Ukraine since the beginning of the crisis. However, when they arrived in other Ukrainian regions, the hostile attitude towards them has become even worse.

More than 55 per cent of Roma evade registration as internally displaced people for fear that their property might be confiscated by the police or other authorities. In addition, they are afraid of being arrested and subjected to cruel treatment by law enforcement authorities for not having any documents.

The most vulnerable in this situation are the Roma women, especially if they are pregnant or have children.

Zemfira Kondur, Vice President of International Charity Organization “Roma Women Fund “Chirikli”, says: “Even in peacetime the majority of Roma were not socially adapted in Ukraine and had a lot of problems (for instance, absence of passports and registration of residence). During the armed conflict they are the first to fall victims, and thus, they become even more vulnerable.”

Indeed, the recent surveys of xenophobia in Ukraine show that Roma remain an ethnic minority treated by Ukrainians with the biggest prejudice (scoring 5.5 out of 7 on the Bogardus scale).

Mykola Burlutskyi, Head of Non-Governmental Organization “Chachimo”, is convinced that the problem has a complex nature as it has many aspects: stereotypes, insufficient integration of Roma into Ukrainian society and the necessity of urging the State to fulfil its obligations to the Roma ethnic minority, i.e. to implement the Strategy for social protection and integration of the Roma ethnic minority into Ukrainian society until 2020.

According to him, the state must take a series of actions to improve the situation. Firstly, it has to simplify the procedure for obtaining identity documents for the displaced Roma (like the Balkan States did). Secondly, it has to monitor the situation on a regular basis and collect the data related to the needs and problems of Roma in Ukraine. Thirdly, it should work with the Roma communities with the purpose of explaining to them their constitutional rights and obligations, and cooperate closely with the civic activists that help Roma people in Ukraine.

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