Don't displace Travellers - stop the planned eviction in Essex!

Society for Threatened Peoples and Federal Union of European Nationalities appeal to Cameron

Resistance is growing against the looming eviction of a large part of a settlement of Irish Travellers and Roma in the British county of Essex, northeast of London. The Society for Threatened Peoples International (STP) together with the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) urgently appealed to the prime minister of Great Britain, David Cameron, on Friday to stop the eviction of approximately 400 Travellers and Roma from their Dale Farm settlement in Crays Hill, Basildon District.

The two international organizations, both based in Germany, pointed out that by ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Great Britain pledged to refrain from evictions and prevent homelessness. And yet homelessness is exactly what the Traveller families, among them many elderly and sick people as well as 110 children, are faced with if they are evicted from Dale Farm. In addition, the appeal called upon Cameron and the chairman of Basildon Council District, Tony Ball, to hold a hearing for all those affected and - " if the eviction cannot be stopped - to provide replacement housing appropriate to their culture.

Dale Farm is the largest Traveller settlement in Great Britain, with a total of approximately 1,000 inhabitants. Eighty-six families are slated for eviction because they settled at Dale Farm without a permit. Some of them have been living there for eleven years. An expedited motion filed by a number of the Travellers, hoping to bring an action against the eviction order, was rejected by the High Court of England and Wales on August 31. The district authorities want to begin with concrete eviction measures on September 19, 2011.

The Travellers are a traditionally nomadic people of ethnic Irish origin. There are up to 100,000 of them worldwide, almost all located in Great Britain, Ireland, the US and Canada. They speak their own language, which has Gaelic origins, and struggle with problems similar to those faced by Roma (lack of education, poverty and marginalization). Some 40,000 Travellers live in Great Britain, where they are a recognized ethnic minority. Ever since the enactment of an amending law that went into effect in 1994, local authorities are no longer obliged to provide Travellers with space for their caravans. The amendment also permitted police to force Travellers off of unauthorized land if they had more than five vehicles in one place.

The FUEN, founded more than 60 years ago in Paris, is the umbrella organization of the more than 300 long-established minorities in Europe. More than 80 of the organizations and associations of these minorities are represented in FUEN. The STP was founded more than 45 years ago. It advocates for the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, nationalities and indigenous communities worldwide and has advisory status at the United Nations and participatory status with the Council of Europe.

The appeal is available here.