Russia’s war against Ukraine sparked a huge wave of solidarity in Europe, with governments and ordinary people rushing to help those fleeing the conflict.
The UN estimates that more than 6.3 million Ukrainians have left their country, but some have already returned. Nevertheless, the crisis has also revealed an unsightly truth: Roma are not welcome in many places. CNN journalists visited shelters and spoke to a number of refugees, social workers and activists in the Czech Republic, Romania and Moldova. In all three countries, the problems faced by Roma refugees are surprisingly similar.
For example, Roma refugees from Ukraine are often accused of not being Ukrainian.
Reports by human rights groups in Poland, Slovakia and Hungary show that such discrimination is common in Eastern Europe.
Nicu Dumitru, a Romanian Roma rights activist, told CNN that this refugee crisis demonstrated the hostility with which Roma are still treated in Europe.
In April, a large group of Roma refugees complained that they had been denied humanitarian aid at an aid station in Bucharest.
“They were kicked out because there were ‘too many’ and ‘too noisy’ and people were telling them, ‘You are not Ukrainians, you are gypsies, leave,'” Nicu Dumitru told us.
On the other side of the border, in the Republic of Moldova, Roma journalist Elena Sîrbu said she too was horrified when she saw what was happening in a refugee centre in Chisinau.
More in the story from CNN