Roma re­act to re­set­tle­ment plan

Con­fed­er­a­tion irked at not hav­ing been con­sulted ahead of amend­ment

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greece’s Roma re­acted yes­ter­day to an amend­ment passed through Par­lia­ment on Tues­day which fore­sees the re­set­tle­ment of thou­sands of the com­mu­nity’s mem­bers in 70 new camps with­out prior con­sul­ta­tion.

“Nat­u­rally we hail the ini­tia­tive and rec­og­nize its au­thors’ good in­ten­tions, but it goes against Euro­pean reg­u­la­tions and com­mon sense that the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Roma were ab­sent from such a de­ci­sion,” An­to­nis Batza­lis, the spe­cial sec­re­tary of the Pan­hel­lenic Con­fed­er­a­tion of Greek Roma (ELLAN PASSE), told Kathimerini.

In an of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment, ELLAN PASSE de­manded that the amend­ment be with­drawn and a fresh dis­cus­sion ini­ti­ated with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Roma com­mu­nity and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties so that any plan put for­ward ef­fec- tively ad­dresses ac­tual prob­lems rather than be­ing an ex­er­cise “on pa­per.”

The com­mu­nity is par­tic­u­larly cha­grined that the govern­ment did not reach out to ELLAN PASSE, which rep­re­sents the first suc­cess­ful ef­fort in decades to unite dis­parate Roma clans and com­mu­ni­ties across Greece un­der one um­brella. It is es­ti­mated that the Greek Roma pop­u­la­tion num­bers be­tween 350,000 and 500,000.

“Thou­sands of them live in camps with­out run­ning wa­ter or sew­ers, re­sult­ing in out­breaks of in­fec­tions and hep­ati­tis,” said Batza­lis, de­scrib­ing the con­di­tions at many camps as akin to a “hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.”

ELLAN PASSE is op­posed to the idea of build­ing more camps, as these tend to de­volve into “ghet­tos,” Batza­lis said.

Pres­i­dent Prokopis Pavlopou­los (right) meets with EU Com­mis­sioner for Mi­gra­tion Dim­itris Avramopou­los at the Pres­i­den­tial Man­sion in Athens yes­ter­day. The Com­mis­sion yes­ter­day an­nounced a 209-mil­lion-euro pack­age of emer­gency fund­ing to help Greece deal with the refugee cri­sis. It in­cludes a 151-mil­lion-euro pro­gram to help refugee fam­i­lies rent ac­com­mo­da­tion in Greek cities so they can move out of camps.

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