International Roma Day The Order of Malta’s Commitment in Eastern Europe
Ratified in 1979 by the United Nations, the International Roma Day is celebrated on 8 April. Numbering between 10 and 12 million people, the Roma are one of Europe’s largest minorities and are often deprived of citizenship. The Sovereign Order of Malta operates in Albania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia in favour of the Roma minority, mainly facilitating their integration into civil society with a particular emphasis on minors.
In Albania and the Czech Republic the Order of Malta provides legal assistance and education; again in Albania, as well as in Hungary, it organizes summer camps for young Roma people. The Order’s assistance service in Hungary also manages 33 recreation areas for young people, including many Roma children, who can interact here by playing, reading books and carrying out manual arts. A meeting place to help the members of the local community relate to each other.
The “Social Housing and Integration” programme is active in various Roma settlements in Hungary and provides accommodation and vocational training courses. In Romania and Slovakia, the Order of Malta’s projects are mainly focussed on the education of Roma young people, with the aim of limiting early school-leaving, and on schemes for supporting pre-school children inserted in precarious contexts.
The Sovereign Order of Malta also participates in the European project PAIRS (Effective Programmes for the Active Integration/Inclusion of the Roma in South-East Europe) in which States and humanitarian organizations are partners, with the aim of defining strategies for Roma inclusion.
The Order’s commitment to the Roma minority has been further reinforced by the recent appointment of an ambassador with the task of promoting and developing the Order’s activities in the various countries.