A thematic map on environmental racism against Roma communities in Central and South-Eastern Europe developed by ENVJUSTICE – EJAtlas team at ICTA - UAB in collaboration with European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Human Rights activists
Besides being present in Europe for centuries, Roma communities continue to remain on the edge of both Eastern and Western European societies, segregated apart from their neighboring communities . The number of Roma groups is much higher in Central and Eastern parts of the European continent, with a significant proportion of the population in Bulgaria (10%), Slovakia (9%), Romania (8%), Hungary (7%), and Macedonia (2,6%) .
This map provides a sample of the enormous environmental injustices that Roma communities undergo due to their ethnicity and race in Europe – today. Identified cases on environmental racism against Roma cover the following countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe: Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Kosovo.
Roma frequently face racism, intolerance, discrimination, and exclusion . An unequal access to natural resources and distribution of its benefits, such as potable water, clean air, scenic landscapes; or disproportionate exposure to environmental risk, waste dumps hazards, flooding, and landslides; are often socially constructed. These processes and issues around environmental inequality based on race, collectively refer to the concept of environmental racism, which is predominately directed to Roma    .
Only in Hungary there are 758 settlements identified at the outskirts of the country in which Roma communities dominantly live . In Slovakia, there are another 281 Roma settlements identified . About half of the 621 thousand Roma people live near or directly on landfills in Romania . In Bulgaria 89% of Roma inhabitants do not have access to water; and in Macedonia there are several cases reported where Roma are forcibly evicted to live near heavily polluted industrial areas  .
Indeed, this thematic map confirms Roma settlements being placed near mining and smelting complexes, former military bases, and landfills. Furthermore, Roma settlements serve as deposits for highly dangerous waste discharges from municipal, industries, and mine complexes. Often, environmental services, such as green areas or water sources, are used as a direct strategy of racism practiced against Roma. For instance, cutting-off water provisioning in the middle of a heat wave.
Forced evictions are also practiced against Roma in the name of green areas restoration. Roma settlements are often segregated by physical walls where local authorities claim it as a “noise barrier” to protect citizens from the highway noise. On a daily basis, Roma experience a strong hate speech and physical violence. Poor health conditions of Roma relate to denial of potable water and sanitation, polluted air, closeness to landfills, flooding sites. In some cases, evictions to heavily polluted mining complexes or water treatment plants expose Roma communities to lead poisoning and radiation.
Common for the cases of environmental racism against Roma is a structural violence,
observed in a latent instead of openly manifested form. The violence, furthermore, is
manifested as an interrelated process through racism, environmental injustice, and the
materiality of the economy (the use of land and water). In spatial terms, environmental
racism against Roma is found in urban, semi-urban, and rural settings across Central
and South-Eastern Europe.
The research team consist of Ksenija Hanaček and Federico Demaria (ICTA-UAB), Patrizia Heidegger and Katharina Wiese (EEB), Radost Zahireva (Bulgaria), Mustafa Asanovski (Macedonia), Ciprian-Valentin Nodis (Rumania), Zsuzsanna Kovács (Hungary), Ondrej Poduska (Slovakia).
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