A FUNDING PROGRAMME FOR SURVIVORS OF THE ROMA GENOCIDE
Survivors of the Roma genocide in Eastern Europe often live in poverty and are socially excluded and discriminated against. Until recently, they were among the "forgotten victims" of Nazi persecution. There is little support for this target group in their home countries or internationally. The EVZ Foundation has also been unable to reach them through other humanitarian funding programs. The "Latscho Diwes" funding program was launched in 2016 to directly help Roma who had suffered under National Socialism.
Between 2016 and 2019, 46 projects received funding totaling €2,339,000 in nine countries (Belarus, Moldova, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine).
Funding for 16 projects totaling €730,000 is planned for 2020.
Due to the migration of younger family members for work, many elderly Roma in Moldova, especially those who are less mobile or immobile, have hardly any social contact. They feel lonely and helpless. The executing agency – the “Tarna Rom” association of younger Roma – wants to alleviate this situation and in doing so to use their previous experience of representing the interests of Roma communities. In particular, they plan to obtain concrete aid from the state through their activities: The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs should introduce social worker positions for elderly Roma in at least three localities and local authorities should provide health care and financial benefits for them. In addition, the beneficiaries are to be provided with food, medicines, heating fuel, beds and mattresses, and their homes are to be repaired. The executing agency has the support of local volunteers for this. The project will be implemented in eight small Moldovan towns and the surrounding areas to support 80 survivors of the Roma genocide.
In Samara, Novokujbyshevsk, and Chapayevsk, the living conditions of 60 Roma born before 1945 are being permanently changed for the better. The staff and volunteers of the NGO "National-Cultural Roma Autonomy" help them to take out health insurance and access free medical examinations, which is improving the medical care received by the beneficiaries. Joint meetings with representatives of relevant state authorities give them the opportunity to present their needs directly and to be informed of existing services. Elderly Roma and their families also receive help with keeping chickens. This not only improves the material situation of the project beneficiaries, but also their physical and emotional state – as they actively participate in keeping the chickens, they become more mobile and feel needed. State structures are to be involved in supporting the economic activities after the project has ended. In order to alleviate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the beneficiaries are being supported with food, hygiene products, and disinfection agents, as well as protective masks and vitamins on a one-off basis.
Located in the Romanian community of Fetești in the district of Ialomița, the Roma organization "Social Integration and Development Association Muntenia" is responsible for 55 survivors of the Roma genocide in the districts of Calarasi, Ilfov, Braila, Constanta, and Tulcea. The elderly receive individual humanitarian aid, such as clothing and food vouchers. They also receive regular medical care. Awareness was raised of the persecution of elderly Roma through a competition involving a total of eight schools, which acknowledged the stories and recollections of the survivors. Moreover, the erection of five commemorative plaques in various communities has drawn attention to the persecution of the Roma.
The “Association of Roma Intellectuals” is responsible for 84 survivors of the genocide of the Roma in the two southern Serbian communities of Vladičin Han and Surdulica. The beneficiaries receive social, medical, and legal advice and support. A social center has been opened in the village of Prekodolce near Vladičin Han. Home visits to immobile elderly people are organized in the two communities. In addition to the social center in Prekodolce, get-togethers are held for the beneficiaries at the other two locations once a month.
The EVZ Foundation is looking for new project formats to provide ongoing support to Roma survivors that can be continued after EVZ funding has ended. Two pilot projects are currently being funded in Ukraine and one in Serbia.
In a one-year pilot project, Roma Serbia Forum (Belgrade) is to form a coalition of several Roma organizations and develop an advocacy strategy to strengthen the social and civil rights of elderly Roma. For this purpose, a status report on the current living conditions of elderly Roma, especially survivors of the Nazi genocide, is to be prepared and political recommendations are to be made. Several stakeholder meetings and public events at local and national level will seek to incorporate measures to strengthen the rights of elderly Roma into five local and national action plans on Roma inclusion.
The absence of a regular income is one of the main reasons for the structural exclusion, discrimination, poverty, and other problems that Roma in general experience and especially victims of the Nazis. That is why the East Ukrainian NGO "Regional Research Fund" from Sumy offers Roma from the region training and job placements as well as extensive advice on setting up small, family-owned agricultural businesses, which are to join forces to form a cooperative at the end of the project. The proceeds – initially in the form of agricultural produce and later also financial – will be used to support the survivors of the Nazi genocide and other people in need. Around 60 elderly Roma also receive help accessing existing social and medical services. The project is being implemented in cooperation with two Roma organizations, namely "Roma Nationalvereinigung" (Roma National Association) and "Nevo Rom", as well as various state structures such as regional and local administrations and job centers.
More about the work of "Nevo Rom" on YouTube (Russian):