Thousands of Roma in Italy face the threat of multiple human rights violations as the “Nomad Plan” for the area of Rome is put into force. Rather than seeking to help these Roma access regular housing, the plan paves the way for yet more forced evictions of thousands of Roma. Most, but not all, will be resettled in new or expanded camps on the outskirts of Rome.
The 2009 “Nomad Plan” covers most of the long-term Roma and Sinti residents of the area of Rome. The majority of Roma in the area of Rome live in different kinds of camps, and some have lived there for decades (the total Roma population in the region is between 12,000 and 15,000). Some camps are “authorized” and maintained by the municipal authorities; some are “tolerated” and supported by local authorities to varying degrees. However, most are irregular settlements which consist of hastily constructed shacks.
The “Nomad Plan” is a scheme for relocating 6,000 of the total Roma population living in camps to the outskirts of Rome. The plan does not include legal safeguards against forced evictions. There has been no genuine consultation with the Roma affected by the plan and most Roma interviewed by Amnesty International had not heard of the plan nor were they aware how it would affect them personally. There are concerns over who will be allowed to settle in the camps and that many people will be left homeless.
As long as they live in camps, without an official address - or with an address that marks them out as Roma - finding steady employment will be difficult. As a result, most Roma are left to eke out a living as best they can, mostly through recycling scrap metal or as casual labourers.
The exclusion of most Roma from regular employment and ordinary housing keeps them, quite literally, on the margins of society: in camps on the edges of built-up areas. The resulting social conditions reinforce the prejudices that further fuel discrimination. And so the cycle continues. Tensions with neighbouring residents and the majority population are often the result.
A comprehensive plan to address the underlying problems and human rights violations that the Roma face every day would benefit the entire population. Unfortunately, the “Nomad Plan” reflects the prejudice of the majority population, and contributes to perpetuating the marginalization and exclusion of the Roma in the area of Rome.
Twenty-five years after the UN established World Habitat Day, hundreds of millions of people across all continents have no alternative but to live in inadequate housing and living conditions in slums and informal settlements and this number is growing – 1.4 billion by 2020. Remind governments that they can not claim to address poverty or create better cities if they ignore the billion people living in slums and their human rights.