GENEVA – Tens of thousands of elderly Gypsy Holocaust survivors in Europe are living in poverty and desperately need more aid as they live out their final years, a Swiss-based migration agency said Friday.
About 145,000 Gypsy Holocaust survivors are impoverished, the U.N.-affiliated International Organization for Migration said. While IOM and other organizations have been helping the Gypsies – also known as Roma – since 2002, funds are now running out.
“Many Roma live in squalid settlements without any services,” IOM Roma expert Delbert Field said. “It is only right that Roma Holocaust survivors receive some basic help to ease their final years.”
Heavily persecuted by the Nazis during World War II, many were deported to concentration camps where they died. Others were enslaved by the Nazis and their allies.
Some 250,000 to 1.5 million Roma were killed during that time. Accurate figures are difficult to find, because so many Roma were rounded up away from public view, executed and dumped into mass graves.
IOM says since 2002, it and other organizations have helped supply more than 64,000 Roma Holocaust victims with food, firewood, coal and hygiene articles.
Funding comes from a settlement with Swiss banks and from the German foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future.
Field said ideally, $214 million is needed to assist 126,000 elderly Roma for five years. $59 million would be needed to aid 65,000 Roma for three years.
An estimated 4.6 million Roma live in eastern and central Europe out of a total of 6.2 million in all of Europe.