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September 1 2010


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The death of the little Marius, who burned alive in a hot summer night because of a canlde that was used to keep rats at bay, is an unaceptabe tragedy. Nobody can die at three! Never people must due in this way. This death is a signal of alarm for a society that has been trying for decades to find a solution to a situation that has been always considered an emergency but that is really of rather limited proportions and absolutely not impossible to solve.

There are about 150 thousands gypsies in Italy. Almost half of them are Italian, the other half are Rumanian while the remaining small part are from former Yugoslavia. The situation of this last group could easily be soved. Most of them have been in Italy for three generations, they cannot be expelled, but are unable to produce documents that would enable them to remain in Italy because their country dissolved and their papers either do not exist or they are not valid any more. Those who were born in Italy cannot have any kind of document. A long term residence permit for humanitarian reasons would bring back to legality thousands of people.

But most of all, Gyspies both in Europe and Italy have always been apeople of children and adolescents (haldf of them are in this age range). They are people who have a life expectancy 30 years lower than the Italian population. This data says very clearly that Gypsies in Italy live well below the minimum condition of humanity. They often have rats and garbage dumps as companions. Schooling is often impossible also thanks to sudded and repeated "removals" of the camps. Health situation is definetly not that of a "first world" country. (...) Even the best among them find always very difficult to get out from their condition of abandonement and marginality. 

Hundreds of thousands died in concentration camps, but were never given a land nor they were repaid with a sense of debt and sympathy by the rest of the population. Our soceities never grewn for the Gypsies those  antibodies that do react, fortunately, in the face of signs of awakening antisemitism.  It 's so that, without antibodies, persistently antigitanism (Anti-Gyspy feeling) crosses the minds of our societies in times of crisis and indicates the gypsies as designated targets of social unrest, economic crisis and fear.

Measures taken in other countries do not help as striking as they may be. Perhaps technically within the laws, they send a serious cultural signal that encourages to put the blame of the crisis on someone  and to find solutions in the removal of the other.

These actions may provide an immediate feeling of security, but they encourage intolerance and social division and loss of sense of humanity in the long run. They can be costly over time for France, Italy, Europe.
After pity, as always,  the usual password is legality and "crackdowns". It is a solution that seems "normal" for normal citizens but it does not touch anything of the problem and it does not work to integrate the Roma in European and Italian society.
Many solutions attempted by various governments in Italy have lost effectiveness because positive measures, such as those in favor of schooling, have not kept pace with the rehabilitation of living conditions, with initiatives to promote cultural understanding and sympathy between residents and new settlements, or initiatives to create (...).
The Community of Sant'Egidio expresses its call to leave the overheated climate that threatens once again to prevent the search for real solutions while instead it increases division (...) It is possible on the contrary to launch intelligent and constructive, long-term integration of Roma children as a real answer and not an occasional solution to bring to a solution a social issue of small numbers but large and excessive emotional impact.

Some basic rules:
That no-eviction of squatter or degraded settlements may happen without a concomitant, better solution: this only generates dispersion with the risk for the union of families, losing contact with the individual stories. It furthermore facilitates the creation of fragmented squatter settlements that are even more complex to control, with additional difficulties on the ground of public order and continuity of school integration.
-Legal settlements, should be equipped, cleaned up and monitored. Common services not only the basic should be increased and when possible, adequate housing initiatives should be taken (...).
-Commitment to a general education of Roma children, should be increased (...)


The issue of Gypsies, then we can aspire to become a theme of the past and, finally, an achievement of civilization for the entire national society.

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