Roma and War in Eastern Ukraine – refugees, displaced persons, victims of violence

Millions of people have suffered over the past year of combat operations in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in Ukraine. During this undeclared war thousands of military personnel and civilians have lost their lives, tens of thousands of people have been wounded, and hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the conflict zone. Several million people remain in the conflict zone, where they are forced to endure the cold; hunger; lack of a steady income, medical care, and essential items; and various forms of violence (shelling, raids, and the unlawful actions of unrecognized local authorities). 

Roma are the victims of the military conflict and are in very difficult situations both in Ukraine and in Russia. Many of them have tried to leave the conflict zone and flee the war. In addition to the hardships they experience as refugees, they also face xenophobia and biases that plague society in both Russia and Ukraine. The governments of these countries are not taking sufficient measures to deal with the problems that refugees and internal migrants face. There are virtually no public initiatives in Russia aimed at migrants, and Ukraine does not have sufficient resources to deal with this issue.

Many refugees return home, but life in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts is still fraught with danger and violence and is unsettled and difficult in material terms. Additionally, Roma from Eastern Ukraine suffer from biased treatment and the perpetual suspicion of treachery. For example, those who have returned to Sloviansk are accused of being pro-Russian, while those who oppose the Ukrainian government suspect them of supporting anti-Russian forces. It is difficult even for the Roma to understand who is persecuting them and for what reason.

ADC Memorial calls upon all sides somehow implicated in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, including the international community, to pay special attention to the situation of Roma, to prevent violence and discrimination against this vulnerable group, and to assist refugees in attaining legal status and those who have returned home in settling back into their lives.

ADC Memorial calls upon international organizations to track observance of the rights of Roma in both Russia and Ukraine, protect them from discrimination, and assist governments in developing and implementing action plans for their integration into society.

Version in Ukrainian