On September 30, IRU President Zoran Dimov sent a letter to Helsinki. International Romani Union - IRU sent a letter to Deputy Mayor Sanna Vesikansa and Director of Family and Social Services Maarit Sulavuori and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto. President Dimov called attention to the accommodation of Romanian and Bulgarian mobile Roma in Helsinki.
In his letter, Mr. Dimov thanked Finland and especially Helsinki for their meritorious work for the benefit of the Roma. The situation of the Roma in Finland is one of the best in the world globally, but there is still room for improvement, especially at the attitude level, as the Equality Ombudsman's annual report 2019 shows. For years, the City of Helsinki and the Helsinki Deaconess Institute have done exemplary work for the benefit of the Roma, a mobile population from Romania and Bulgaria. The City of Helsinki has arranged emergency accommodation during the winter from 1 October to 30 April and acute health care. In addition, during the Covid-19, there has also been emergency accommodation and hot food once a day in the summer of 2020.
Acute emergency of mobile Roma
In September, Mr. Dimov received acute feedback that a large proportion of Europe's mobile Roma spend the night in Helsinki outdoors in the woods. With the onset of winter, it is needed to quickly get emergency accommodation for the mobile population to continue all year round and also a hot meal every day. President Dimov stated that the City of Helsinki should continue to cooperate with the Deaconess Institute, as they have skilled and experienced employees (the Hirundo project) who are able to help the Roma population on a daily basis.
In his letter, the President of the IRU also stated that the IRU is committed to making efforts and finding ways to improve the socio-economic status of mobile Roma and to activate everyone to participate in education and the wage labor market so that they can earn their own and their families' livelihood.
In her letter, Zoran Dimov stated that Finland, as an EU member state, should contact the origin countries of mobile Roma (Bulgaria and Romania) and direct them to allocate the funds they receive from the EU budget for Roma integration to reduce the number of mobile Roma, also Finland. The IRU is involved in supporting Roma integration.
President Dimov expressed the hope that the City of Helsinki would quickly provide emergency accommodation for mobile Roma throughout the year.
The City of Helsinki's answer
The City of Helsinki's reply letter came quickly at the beginning of October. The letter stated that the city will continue its cooperation
with the Helsinki Deaconess Institute also in this matter of the mobile Roma population, and the city recognizes the know-how of the Deaconess Institute's Hirundo project.
The City of Helsinki replied that emergency accommodation places for the mobile population had been added right from the beginning of October. Arranging year-round emergency accommodation is also kept in mind.
Answer from the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Yesterday, October 23, IRU President Zoran Dimov received a reply letter from the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The letter states that the issue raised by the IRU is very important and topical, and the City of Helsinki is responsible for the emergency accommodation of the mobile population in Helsinki, and the IRU has sent the letter to the right party.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that it promotes the status of the Roma and related human rights issues in various multilateral contexts, e.g. In the EU, the Council of Europe and the UN, and bilaterally with Bulgaria and Romania. The Finnish Embassies in Bulgaria and Romania also promote, on various multilateral contacts, raising awareness of the rights of Roma communities and the importance of integration in co-operation with the authorities and NGO Actors in these countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Promises to continue this work.
The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs thanks the IRU
At the end of his reply, the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanks the IRU for the important work that the IRU is doing to promote the status of the Roma minority in the long and short term.