Following the outbreak of the pandemic virus, the ROMACTED Programme has mobilised significant financial and human resources in the participating municipalities to adequately respond to the crisis and to help those most in need in the Roma communities.
The Council of Europe is not a humanitarian organisation, nor is ROMACTED a humanitarian programme. Nevertheless, since these unprecedented times impose special measures, our responses were organised in such a way that the objectives and mission of both the Organisation and the programme remain clear, especially regarding the prevention of abuses of human rights and the equal distribution of emergency aid, the prevention of discrimination and risks of politicisation of the crisis, including the use of hate-speech and repressive measures against Roma. The main priority during this crisis is to help the Roma families who are in the most vulnerable situations and excluded from humanitarian protection and assistance. The overall nature and focus of the ROMACTED Programme remain, however, on the promotion of good governance and empowerment of Roma citizens at local level.
By 30 April 2020 approximately €60 000 will have been allocated in 34 beneficiary municipalitiesin Western Balkans reaching out to approximately 1 900 families. This action includes the distribution of essential food packages and vouchers, as well as hygiene kits and products.
In addition, further re-allocations of additional resources totaling an estimated €250 000 to €300 000 from ROMACTED Phase I, are planned to top up the existing grants implying a redefinition and adaptation of projects to be implemented by local authorities and Roma NGOs.
Other type of actions carried out at the local level in order to respond to the crisis include maintaining contact with the local and central authorities to remind them of the precarious situation that their fellow Roma citizens find themselves in has therefore been our central approach to this pandemic; distribution of information on preventive measures; participation in crisis management teams and other similar actions at local level and coordination of actions at national level; and initiation and implementation of actions by the respective support organisations jointly with other relevant stakeholders and actors.
Council of Europe and the European Union started discussions for more long-term actions within ROMACTED Phase II to respond to the impact of COVID19 in the Roma communities of the participating municipalities which will target the dysfunctionalities at the level of the governance which resulted in structural inequalities that keep many Roma families in vulnerable and marginalised situations.