Appeal to the Polish authorities: Stop treating the Roma community from Ukraine as second-class refugees

Saturday, February 24, marks the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war drove 7 million Ukrainian women and men from their homes, including 50,000-70,000 people from the Roma community, most of whom are children. Their situation was and is dramatic. What have the Polish authorities done over the past 2 years to support refugee women and refugees of Roma origin? Definitely not enough!

That’s why today, as the war in Ukraine continues for another year, we appeal to the Polish authorities to take decisive action to improve the situation of the Ukrainian Roma community. Roma community from Ukraine who have found refuge in Poland have faced – and continue to face – discrimination, inferior treatment and rejection. Thus, Roma refugees from Ukraine became “second-class refugees” ignored by the previous authorities, who turned a blind eye to the segregation, the lack of access of the Roma community to collective accommodation centers thereby acquiescing to discrimination against this most vulnerable group of refugees. 

That’s why, as the Towards Dialogue Foundation – a leading organization supporting Roma community in Poland which operates a Roma Community Center in Warsaw – we are calling on the Polish government to leave the path of discrimination and prejudice followed by the previous government and change its course of action towards solutions that should apply in a democratic state of law.

We are addressing 7 main demands to the Polish authorities. Their implementation is the first step toward improving the critical situation of the Roma refugees in. 

  1. Create a comprehensive program to support Roma refugees in cooperation with social organizations, including Roma organizations.
  2. Remove full responsibility for assisting Roma refugees from NGOs in favor of increasing the involvement of state institutions.
  3. Preparing an accommodation plan for those currently living in places of collective accommodation, which are to be abolished in the near future while halting the practice of ethnic segregation in these places.
  4. Guaranteeing Roma children full access to education, which they are currently sometimes blocked from.
  5. Guaranteeing financial support for NGOs that support refugees from the Roma community from Ukraine.
  6. Imposing an obligation on local authorities and institutions that run centers for refugees where persons from the Roma community are housed, to cooperate with social organizations including the possibility of entering the centers, which is sometimes blocked at present.
  7. Take measures to reduce prejudice and combat the discrimination that refugees of Roma origin experience from Polish society, social workers and state institutions.

As the Towards Dialogue Foundation – the first organization in Poland that started helping Roma refugees from Ukraine after the Russian invasion began – we are ready and willing to support the Polish government with expertise and experience. At the same time, we urge you to treat the situation of Roma refugees from Ukraine as one of your priorities. Without the support of the authorities, we will not be able to work effectively to improve the situation of this most marginalized refugee group.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top