Milan Authorities Close Lombroso Shelter Making Roma Homeless

30 September 2016

Budapest, Milan, 30 September 2016: Today, the new administration of Milan Municipality closed the Social Emergency Shelter located on Via Lombroso. 38 people, including 15 minors, the majority of which are Romani were made homeless. This decision was made without providing any form of alternative accommodation, flying in the face of local, national and international commitments to Roma welfare and integration.

The inhabitants were informally told about the closure of the shelter 15 days ago, but were not provided written notice. To date the municipality has not provided any alternative housing solution.

The shelter was opened in August 2013 by the former town councilor for security, Marco Granelli to house Romani families with children who had been evicted from camps across Milan over the past 5 years, including some of those evicted from Via Idro formal camp in March 2016. The shelters is also home to some vulnerable non-Roma families who will also be evicted.

The shelter is situated alongside a busy railway track. Families are accommodated in large containers, each holding between 16 and 27 persons, whose only privacy comes from thin panels. Conditions at the shelter are far from ideal, but the decision to close them without prior written notice nor a plan for accommodating the inhabitants amounts to harassment, and will only cause further hardship for these families, most of them Roma, who have already faced eviction from their previous places of residence.

The forced eviction of Roma without any prior consultation or written notice, and without providing alternative accommodation is in breach of Race Equality Directive 2000/43/EC and Italy’s commitments under international human rights law.

The closure of camps resulting in Roma being rendered homeless or placed in segregated shelters, amounts to harassment, which is prohibited as a form of discrimination under Article 2(3) RED.

The European Court of Human Rights has recognised that “Travellers and Roma should not be subject to forced evictions unless they are re-housed, except in cases of force majeure (exceptional circumstances).” The closure of the Via Lombroso Shelter and subsequent eviction of Roma families is a clear violation of Italy’s obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Most of the Romani families living in the shelters have experienced multiple evictions prior to moving to the Lombroso shelter. The ERRC attended a press conference this morning organized by Rete Rom, a local NGO coalition, in order to assess the situation and decide on a course of action. Residents of Lombroso shelter attended along with representatives from the press. One Romani woman said “they [the municipality] evicted me and moved me and my 4 children here. We are tired”. Another Romani woman stated “when I ask what the municipality is going to do with us, they say ‘we still do not know’”.

The ERRC will be in contact with Milan based NGOs as well as the local municipality to investigate the situation further and ensure the best possible outcome for the affected families under the circumstances.

For further information contact:

Rosi Mangiacavallo
Country Facilitator for Italy
rosi.mangiacavallo@errc.org
+39 3289420715

Jonathan Lee
Communications Officer
jonathan.lee@errc.org
+36 30 500 2118

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