Today, Friends Families and Travellers wrote to Dunja Mijatovic, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe to voice concerns about the lack of UK Government support for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers during the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19).
The letter urges the Commissioner for Human Rights to put pressure on the UK Government. The content of the letter can be found below:
“Re: Lack of UK Government support for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers during Covid-19
We write in response to your statement urging Governments to ensure equal protection and care for Roma and Travellers during the COVID-19 crisis, and to highlight the lack of Government information, advice or action to support Gypsy, Traveller or Boater communities during the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.
Guidance released by Public Health England on self-isolation has no information on how to selfisolate on an unauthorised encampment, on a Traveller site or on a boat, and whilst civil society organisations have been working with Public Health England on developing such guidance, the process has been slow, with nothing published yet.
Crucially, there has been no UK Government guidance to local authorities on the need to stop evictions from roadside camps and to provide camps with basic amenities such as water, sanitation and refuge collection, all of which are essential to follow the public health guidance on hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation. Numerous representations that have been made to the UK Government on this issue, none of which has received a response, these are attached and include;
- A letter from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gypsies, Travellers and Roma to the Minister for Local Government and Homelessness (30 March)
- A letter from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gypsies, Travellers and Roma and to the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government (sent 25 March).
- A joint civil society letter from 30 organisations (sent on 24 March).
We have been working with Officers at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on this matter but there has been no apparent progress on addressing the issues at ministerial level. We have seen positive action where there are devolved powers, with the Welsh Government and Scottish Government both taking action to address the situation for Gypsies and Travellers. However, there a lack of action from Westminster in protecting Gypsies and Travellers, who are amongst the most marginalised communities in the UK.
We urge you to write to the UK Government to press this issue.”
Notes for Editor
About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)
Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers regardless of ethnicity, culture or background.
Sami McLaren, Communications Officer
Tel: 01273 234 038 Email: [email protected]
Friends Families and Travellers. ‘Covid-19 resources for supporting Gypsy, Traveller and Boater Communities’. April 2020. View page.