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February 7 2011

In Rome, four Roma children die burnt. An unbearable tragedy. The Community of Sant'Egidio calls a day of mourning for the city of Rome. Wednesday, February 9 a prayer with Roma and Sinti in Santa Maria in Trastevere (5:30 pm)

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Another tragedy of poverty and exclusion. A shame for the city of Rome and for our country. One can not, one should not die like this. As the little Mario in August. As if he had not learned anything. Four children burned alive. A family already affected by difficulties, which has had thirty evictions in 10 years. It's a tragedy that calls for the city to stop.

The Roma in the capital and in Italy have a life expectancy at birth of less than fifty years, even when one does not die suffocated and burned when they are children. It is a population of kids. For the Roma we are not able to do the only necessary thing: decent, livable housing, and a consequent, consistent policy of inclusive education.

We must stop. We expect the rulers and the public opinion to also change the language. It is never the poor, those living on the edge of minimum and endurance, forced by a thousand factors, to be a threat to the "decorum". it's poverty and exclusion that are "indecent". We need a "clearing up", but of conscience. Without a widespread mood of intolerance it would get easier to implement effective and lasting solutions.

The urban decorum and the end of degradation is expressed when there is no one more, either Roma or not Roma, forced to live and die this way. Unfortunately, it is not what we have see for years: measures of "clearing up", often asked by the population, and implemented by the police early in the morning, destroying with the barracks also personal property, books, exercise books: views of small destructions of whole worlds, but remain forever in the minds of the Roma children, in the general indifference, as if they were not persons.

Dismantling the settlements, both abusive and non abusive (including those who were equipped and paid by the community, as happened again recently), but without a better alternative, simultaneously, for all, always ends up dispersing on the territory Roma families and groups, making it increasingly difficult to attend school and the work of monitoring and police presence at known sites. This is how spontaneous settlements and small fragments of urban decay are reborn, the huts, the cellophane homes, the areas where no one wants to live and where people die easily burned because of a heater, or bearing respiratory sicknesses since childhood.

We call on state and local governments to begin a long-term policy to find decent places and ways of life for the Roma. We ask to launch an extraordinary and exemplary plan - even with the support of the European Union - to create a model over public areas or municipal or private resources. Also the Roma ask to live in homes.

The Community of Sant'Egidio Roman invites all to a prayer vigil to remember Sebastian, Patrick, Raul and Fernando, for this grief is the grief of the whole city but also a sign of welcome to the many Roma families who do not feel welcome in this city.

Rome the Capital, in the year of the 150th anniversary of unity of Italy, must find the the energies and intelligence to accept a minority, composed mainly of children.



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