Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Roma - Second-Class Refugees

 Once more this blog draws attention to the racism against the Roma. 

At Prague’s central railway station hundreds of Roma people are sheltering  under what emergency workers say are dangerously unsanitary conditions, in the only place available to them since they joined the millions of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion. Unlike other Ukrainians who have been offered refugee visas, these families have found they have nowhere to go and no one who wants them.

More than 500 people are crammed each night into quarters that were originally envisaged to accommodate 260 on a one-night-only basis. Some have stayed for up to 10 nights. Volunteer aid workers say they are overstretched and overwhelmed. 

“We were set up to provide information, but now we are dealing with a humanitarian crisis. It is no longer sustainable,” says Geti Mubeenová, crisis coordinator with the Organisation for Aid to Refugees (OPU).

“We tried to register for refugee protection at the registration centre but they wouldn’t accept us and didn’t give us any document explaining why,” says Zanna, a teenage mother of three children from Kyiv, who says she had arrived in Prague with her family four days earlier. “We came here looking for a place to stay but instead we are just lying on the floor like dogs. We are exhausted and have no energy any more. I’m just feeling really hopeless.”

It is a tale typical of many Roma arrivals, aid workers sy.

According to Mubeenová anti-Roma prejudice is widespread in the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries. Many Roma who left Prague for Germany later returned, she says, including some who reported that police in Dresden refused to allow them to disembark from their train.

Mubeenová says: “I have sat in meetings with representatives of Prague city hall, the police etc, and noticed the narrative changing – people stopped talking about refugees and started referring to ‘economic migrants’ and ‘welfare tourists’. She explained, “Representatives have told me that they don’t have the necessary documents to apply for protection, but they are often not even allowed to submit applications and that’s not legal.”

‘They won’t accept us’: Roma refugees forced to camp at Prague train station | Ukraine | The Guardian

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