“8 April is always a welcome opportunity to celebrate Roma people and the contribution that they make to our diverse, modern societies. However, it is also a moment to reflect on the hardship and pain that many Roma individuals and communities experience and to renew our commitment to addressing the root causes.
On this International Roma Day, my thoughts are with a Roma community that is suffering in particular. The Russian Federation’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine is causing terrible harm. Roma people are among the millions of Ukrainians who are now displaced and who have become refugees, seeking safety by crossing borders. For some of them, language barriers and a lack of official papers make it even harder to escape. European countries are rightly accepting millions of Ukrainians fleeing war. I ask that each of these countries provides help and security to every individual who needs it, in the interests of their human rights.
The Roma who remain in Ukraine need support too. Last week, the Council of Europe organised an online consultation with Roma NGOs that are still active there. Despite the current conditions, 35 representatives gathered to discuss the current challenges facing Ukrainian Roma. We stand with them now, as we will when the aggression is over. Equally, we must not lose sight of the broader issues facing European Roma, and our capacity to help address these. Our Strategic Action Plan for Roma and Traveller Inclusion (2020-2025), is a clear statement of our ongoing commitment to fighting anti-gypyism and ensuring equality for Roma throughout our shared continent. Nothing less will do.
Roma history, culture and identity are woven into the fabric of European society. We are all stronger for that. Together, let us go further in creating a continent that is safe, vibrant and inclusive: where the rights of every person are ensured for the benefit of all.”