Over the past few months, the ERTF Secretariat received numerous alarming reports on observance of the rights of Roma in Ukraine. As in many other European countries Roma in the Ukraine are a marginalised and impoverished minority and under the current political circumstances they are caught between two fires and have become the scapegoat of various factions.
The first attacks against Roma have been recorded already in January during the demonstrations in Maidan followed by pogroms in Chorostyn, near Kiev. Groups of armed men attacked Roma homes, stole money and jewellery, beat up the inhabitants and threatened them with being shot unless they left immediately. In Eastern Ukraine hundreds of Roma families are fleeing the violence in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kramatorsk and Slavjansk.
The European Roma and Travellers Forum is extremely concerned with the situation and urged the Human Rights Commissionerand the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to use their influence in ensuring the safety of the Roma communities in Ukraine.
Ukraine's last population census dates back to 2001 and it mentions a Roma population of around 50.000. However, unofficial estimates suggestion a much higher number, stretching anywhere from 120.000 to almost 400.000 people.