Ukrainian Roma Refugees Need Equal Protection under the Temporary Protection Directive

Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre welcomes the new decision by the Department of Justice to grant Temporary Protection to a Ukrainian national from the Roma community as a result of legal intervention by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).

Pavee Point brought this case to the attention of IHREC as part of our ongoing work with Ukrainian Roma arriving in Ireland.  “It is important that IHREC took on this case and was successful,” said Jenny Liston, Co-Ordinator of Pavee Point’s Roma Programme.

“This is a very challenging time for the Irish Government, responding to an unprecedented crisis. During this time, the State has shown a welcome commitment to ensuring the rights and safety of those fleeing conflict in Ukraine. However, it is up to the Department of Justice to ensure that Ukrainian Roma refugees receive equal and fair treatment under the Temporary Protection Directive. “

Difficult Journeys from Ukraine

The Roma man travelled to Ireland to be reunited with his wife and young children who had already received Temporary Protection from the Irish State and he had all necessary documentation.

Rudolf Simonic, Roma community worker with Pavee Point said: “Roma families, with their children, have had difficult journeys from Ukraine to Ireland, facing racism and poor treatment along the way. It is very disappointing on reaching Ireland when they do not get the safety and protection they are entitled to. ”

Pavee Point has supported a number of Roma families arriving in Ireland since the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February and has intervened in a number of situations.

“We recorded 11 cases where Ukrainian Roma families were initially refused Temporary Protection,” explained Jenny Liston. “A common thread throughout these cases was the concern expressed by Roma refugees at discriminatory attitudes or differential treatment.”

Pavee Point Briefing on Situation of Ukrainian Roma Refugees in Ireland

Phoneline for Ukrainian Roma Refugees

Pavee Point now operates a phoneline to directly support Ukrainian Roma refugees coming to Ireland and is working closely with State agencies and other relevant NGOs in the National Ukraine Response.

 “Given the discriminatory treatment of Ukrainian Roma fleeing Ukraine that has been documented by a number of international NGOs in a variety of European countries, we recommend that all staff, officials and interpreters  understand the impacts of discrimination and racism on Roma in Ukraine,” added Ms. Liston.

“There also needs to be clear criteria on the evidence required for Temporary Protection and clear reasons for refusal should be given in writing.  We would also welcome a mechanism for raising concerns about decisions.” There were an estimated 400,000 Roma living in Ukraine before the Russian invasion.  Roma face high levels of racism, discrimination, poverty and lack of access to employment, education, and health care in Ukraine. Additionally, Roma in Ukraine can be subject to hate speech and violent attacks.