“Roma are our neighbours, our fellow citizens and our fellow Europeans,”declared Jeroen Schokkenbroek, at the Athens launch of the Dosta Campaign today.
The Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma issues said the campaign, supported by the Greece government, was a response to the “deplorable rejection” of Roma communities.
Freedom of movement means the living conditions of Roma people are now a pan-European issue, Schokkenbroek added. The Council of Europe is well-placed to offer assistance through its legally-binding mechanisms, monitoring organisations and the Roma mediator programme which began in earnest last week.
Roma people, Schokkenbroek said, “are suspected and feared not for what they do but for what they are.
“Hence the generally perceived need to keep away from them, to retain them in distant settlements, to deny them contacts with the majority in education, housing, employment – in other words, ignore their very existence.
“I hope that the Dosta! Campaign will help to make a breach in the wall of rejection and lead the majority population to a better understanding of our common humanity.”
The Greek Ministry for Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs is committed to a three year programme (2010-2013) to improve the access of Roma children to mainstream education and has agreed to take measures to combat Roma absenteeism from school. The ministry will also employ Roma school mediators in the Aspropyrgos area.