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Italian government told to dignify the living conditions of the country’s segregated Roma community in Giugliano

By Rebecca Sonzogni

Last week, the European Courts of Human Rights forced the Italian government to guarantee suitable accommodation for the Roma people who were evicted from the municipality of Giugliano (Naples) in early May.

The European Court condemned the official ordinance that led to the removal of around 450 Roma people from the Via del Viaticale settlement for public health and safety reasons.

Associazione 21 Luglio, an NGO that supports groups suffering segregation and discrimination, asked for “measures aimed at offering adequate and dignified housing solutions for all people, guaranteeing them access to basic services”.

However, the evicted Roma community is still living in an abandoned campsite in a nearby industrial area without access to electricity, clean water or sanitation.

“Since the current land is private and not safe, a new eviction will be done as soon as possible,” said Paola Nugnes, a municipal councillor and national senator representing the populist Five Star Movement. “It will take an indefinite time to find new accommodation for these people.”

But the European Courts of Human Rights has recognised the right to family unity and the need to provide support to Roma families.

“The Italian government must absolutely intervene; human rights have been violated,” said another Giugliano municipal councillor, Nicola Palma. “The government has to give adequate housing to the Roma community; they are citizens of Giugliano too.”

Public opinion about Roma people in Italy

According to several testimonies, Roma people were verbally threatened that their residency rights would be cancelled and their children taken into state care if they did not leave the Giugliano area.

Around 50 children aged up to and under six are among those who have been evicted, along with a dozen pregnant women, while 105 children have been forced to interrupt their compulsory school attendance.

Activists say Roma people in Giugliano have faced eviction, blackmail and fear over the past 30 years.

Speaking to European Interest, Carlo Stasolla from Associazione 21 Luglio said: “Europe has lit a lighthouse that illuminates the whole of Italy and which we all have a duty to keep on: the lighthouse of anti-discrimination and of equal rights.”

Featured photo credit: Raki_Man