The COVID-19 pandemic has added a new challenge to young European Roma and their families. Many Roma children and their families are already living in crowded and unhealthy formal settlements or precarious informal slums, often without access to electricity, running and drinking water, with poor access to basic educational, health and social services and facing growing discrimination, segregation and exclusion.
EPHA has joined calls from the Romani Early Years Network and the International Step-by-Step Association for the European Commission and EU national governments to ensure that any mainstream COVID-19 recovery programmes explicitly address the challenges faced by vulnerable children and families, particularly those from Romani and Traveller communities. They must also ensure that there is no delay to the adoption of the post-2020 Roma inclusion strategy and the proposed EU Child Guarantee.
The measures to tackle the epidemic have had a particular impact on Romani and Traveller families. The requirement to stay at home ignores the fact that many Roma live in inadequate housing; e-learning and schooling at home programmes have not considered that most Romani and Traveller children have no access to electricity, internet connection, and IT devices. The health of vulnerable Romani and Traveller children
and their parents have been placed at serious risk due to their living conditions, the lack of adequate information about protective and preventive measures, and the unaffordability of healthcare and medical supplies.
EU national governments are urged to take action to tackle these concerns, as well as the rise in hate-speech against many Roma communities, which has been translated in the adoption of discriminatory measures in many European countries, further threatening the safety and security of many Romani and Traveller children and their families.