On 22nd November 2013 a legal action was brought by Wrocław Commune against the Roma community residing in the area of derelict allotment gardens on Kamieńskiego Street. The residents of the camp arrived in Poland in the 1990s during the wave of immigration, which had started in Romania after the systemic transformation and was caused by loss of employment as a result, among other reasons, of the privatization of state collective farms, where the Roma had worked. Since that time, some of them have been living in Poland. Here is where most of their children were born. In Poland, just like in other European Union countries, the Roma are doubly excluded, facing social and systemic discrimination.
They live in difficult conditions, in makeshift houses-barracks, with no access to running water, with a constant sense of temporariness and lack of perspectives.
The Wrocław-based Romanian Roma have to appear before the court because, for lack of other possibilities, they reside in the area belonging to the Commune. Poland is bound to international standards of human rights. The authorities are not allowed to carry out forced displacement in a way that violates these regulations. They are obliged to provide all individuals subject to displacement with an access to accommodation with decent living conditions and respect their other rights. Forced displacement is accompanied by no real consultations or proper notification of people who are supposed to face it, by no legal protection or adequate alternative residence provided to the ones who need it. The decision about the displacement needs to be an extremity, when no other solutions are possible.
We are convinced that not all of the possible options of amicable solution of this case were considered, that we were only at the beginning of the path and discussion leading to the development of an aid programme for the Roma, as well as for other immigrants who are, or will be, in a similar situation. The legal proceedings take place despite talks that have commenced and in the course of them, with no prior attempt at mediation or consultation with the community that they concern. The city authorities, after numerous media reports and exposure of this issue by, among others, Amnesty International, have appointed a team which task was to create a plan to improve the situation of the Romanian Roma in Wrocław. The members of NOMADA have been invited to work with the team. However, the phase of talks in which the representatives of the Roma community were supposed to participate has not been reached.
As NOMADA Association, we have been collaborating with the Wrocław-based Romanian Roma for two years. We organize educational activities for children, provide support in the contact with institutions, arrange medical aid, assist in solving everyday problems, conduct talks and mediations regarding the improvement of living conditions and the future of this community. The fundamental principle upon which we base our work is the real contact with the members of the Roma community that consists in mutual understanding, discussion and respect. Our attempt is to make the vision of a multicultural city, on which the image of Wrocław relies, become a fact. We explain people to other people – the Roma to the Poles, and the Poles to the Roma.
We feel it is our duty to back up a group of people who have nowhere to go, possess no means of support, not to mention means that would enable them to fight for their rights. We believe that housing is a human right, not a commodity. We wish that the Roma had the chance to defend themselves during the proceeding, and to make the proceeding itself lead to mediations with the city authorities, so that they would take real action to improve the situation of this group.
Let’s help the Roma with fighting for their rights!
The attachment presents a report on the situation of the Romanian Roma from Wrocław. It may contribute to the better understanding of the context and day-to-day life of this community.