di Francesco Musolino
Rome, May 15 - Conditions in Roma encampments in and around Italy's capital are a "painful social shame to no longer be tolerated," Vincenzo Spadafora from the national child protection agency said on Wednesday. Spadafora, accompanied by human rights association 21 Luglio, visited several of Rome's municipally organized container camps designated for 6,000 ethnic Roma living in the city. "I am speechless. It is shameful that in 2013 people are forced to live on the extremes of society, stripped of their fundamental rights, in these conditions," Spadafora said. "Authorities have spent 62 million euros since 2009 on these camps. Thirteen were supposed to be completed by 2011, but today there are only 8 (organized villages)," association president Carlo Stasolla said. Spadafora said that he would "immediately request a meeting with (Equal Opportunity and Sports) Minister Josefa Idem to ask what the government intends to do". According to 21 Luglio, the city's camps are subject to frequent police raids, struggle with rat and parasite infestations and many are lacking hot water, as well as other basics. "They say we live here for free, but it isn't true. We pay 50 euros a month for electricity, but it has been cut off," said Emil, a Romani man living in the Ceserina camp. "This is supposed to be an equipped camp. Every year the city spends 587,000 euros for it, but if you look at the conditions, it is evident that the money is being spent elsewhere," Stasolla said. According to the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) in a statement released Wednesday, "Italian policies towards the Roma and Sinti violate the basic human rights of thousands of families, and do not encourage their social integration". "Segregated settlements...constructed and authorised by the authorities are supposed to ensure that camps are built in areas beneficial to the Romani community. In practice, these camps are often isolated and segregated, making it extremely difficult for Roma to access their basic rights to education, employment and healthcare," the ERRC wrote.