On Wednesday, 22 July the demolition of 4 houses in the Roma settlement in Wroclaw took place. The action was executed by emergency services following a decision by the District Construction Site Inspector in cooperation with the Municipal Guard. The houses were demolished in the absence of the residents. All the possessions were removed including personal documents, prescription medication, money, and one generator. In effect, several young children and their parents have become homeless. They found temporal refuge with their relatives living on Kamieńskiego Street.
We do not understand this impulsive decision to liquidate the settlement and deprive families of their homes. Such intimidating tactics stand in stark contrast to city’s commitments to engage in a meaningful dialog with grassroots organizations working with the affected Romanian Roma families. The creation of working group inside the Lower Silesian Governor Office and the establishment of multi-sectoral team bringing together front-line workers, NGOs and activists were considered a good sign of progress. However, today’s events are not only a breach of trust but also demonstrate a deep lack of respect for all the persons involved and their efforts.
In our view, Wroclaw’s authorities lack a political will and courage to propose sustainable and innovative measures for addressing the situation of the most vulnerable families. The continuous use of coercion and oppression aggravates social conflict without providing any concrete solutions. The filing of eviction lawsuit against the Romanian Roma, residing at Kamieńskiego Street, and the notorious harassment of Romanian Roma by the City Guard expose the continuous violation of basic human rights. At the same time, the actions of municipal social care units often lack vision and understanding and thus are counterproductive.
Regrettably the situation is similar in other Polish cities – demolition of homes already took place in Gdansk and Cracow and Roma families residing in Poznan are facing forced eviction.
It appears that at this moment nobody is accountable for designing and implementing migration and integration policies. While politicians at different tiers of government continue to quarrel about their mandates and responsibilities, grassroots organizations are actively providing daily assistance to the most marginalized groups. Thanks to their efforts, last month children from Kamieńskiego Street for the first time in their lives collected final report cards.
Migrants from Romania have been living in Poland for over twenty years. Illegal evictions are not a solution and neither are propositions to lodge Roma families in centers with constant surveillance and security checks.
NOMADA Association opposes actions promoted by Wroclaw authorities and will continue to support Roma families in their struggle for basic rights.
photographs by Adriana Boruszewska for doba.pl