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Italy: 'Nomad plan' to evict 6000 Roma people into new camps could leave hundreds homeless, says new report

In a new report released today (11 March) Amnesty International calls on the Italian authorities to halt a controversial housing plan that has resulted in the forced eviction of hundreds of Roma and paves the way for thousands more evictions over the coming months.   The report, The Wrong Answer - Italy’s “Nomad Plan” violates the housing rights of Roma in Rome, warns that the programme, which began in July 2009, violates the human rights of thousands of Roma.   

The measures envisage the destruction of over 100 Roma settlements across the capital and an estimated 6,000 Roma are to be resettled, without adequate consultation, into just 13 new or expanded camps on the outskirts of the city.  The plan is likely to leave more than 1,000 Roma homeless.

In the last few months, hundreds of Roma families have already been evicted from at least five different camps. In Casilino 900, one of the largest Roma camps in Europe until its closure in February this year, only a few Roma had been consulted about the eviction.

Instead of offering the Roma proper housing, the authorities are shuffling them off into camps out of sight. This exacerbates further the obstacles and discrimination Roma face when applying for both social housing and the regular employment that would enable them to afford private accommodation.   

Ignacio Jovtis, Amnesty International’s expert on Italy, said:

“These measures must be scrapped immediately. Roma families across the Italian capital now face losing their possessions, their social contacts, their access to work and to state services.

“There is also a risk that if the plan is implemented it could be used as a blueprint for forced evictions in other Italian regions. Evictions without prior consultation and the offer of adequate alternative accommodation to all of those affected are a violation of human rights.

“Many Roma live in shacks and caravans lacking basic hygienic conditions. However, the current situation is the result of years of neglect, inadequate policies and discrimination.  The plan, instead of addressing these problems, risks making the situation for Roma communities even worse.”

As one Roma man told Amnesty International delegates: “I haven’t applied for social housing because it would be useless. If I say: my name is Saltana Ahmetovic, I live in Monachina, the municipality would never give me a house. I have requested electricity, and they don’t even want to connect that … imagine a house!”

Elpida, a Macedonian Roma woman with a residence permit, who came to Italy in 1991 with her husband, told Amnesty:
“We always dream that our Children's rights will have a house to live in, so they will not be called ‘gypsies’”

Amnesty International believes that in its current form the “Nomad Plan” fails to meet Italy’s obligation to ensure that there is no discrimination against particular groups or segregation in housing.

Amnesty International’s Ignacio Jovtis added:

“The plan is called the ‘Nomad Plan’. But most of the Roma affected are not nomadic at all.  By labelling all Roma nomadic and treating them as such, the initiators of this plan are perpetuating the very problems they are purporting to address.”

Between 12,000 and 15,000 Roma are estimated to be living in and around Rome.

Around 3,000 of these are Italian Sinti, who have long roots in the country. Since the 1960s, many Roma have arrived from the former Yugoslav states. A large proportion of these now have residence permits, and many of their Children's rights are Italian citizens. Over the last decade, a significant number of Roma have also arrived from the new EU member states, in particular Romania. While a few thousand of the Roma in Rome live in permanent accommodation, the majority live in different kinds of camps

In recent years, the Italian authorities have taken a number of discriminatory measures that have contributed to the stigmatisation of Roma living in the country. Forced evictions have become more frequent since special security agreements were concluded between the national government and various local authorities, as a result of which some powers were transferred from the Ministry of Interior to the local authorities. The aim was to address perceived security threats, including those supposedly posed by the presence of Roma communities in cities.

  • Read the report
  • Find out more about  forced evictions /li>

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