Roma began migrating to Italy from the former Yugoslavia in the 1980s when, following the death of dictator Josip Tito, a rise in Yugoslav nationalism saw them become increasingly marginalised. The numbers of displaced Roma moving to Italy swelled again in the 90s during the Bosnian war as Europe faced another massive wave of displacement.
Like refugees the world over, many fled their homeland without papers. The documents they did carry identified them as citizens of a country (Yugoslavia) that no longer existed. In Italy, they settled in informal camps where they were segregated from mainstream Italian society and often continued to live undocumented in a country that does not grant citizenship necessarily to people who were born there or live there. As a result they cannot legally work, graduate from school or open bank accounts, and access to healthcare is limited.
“We were born and grew up in Italy. And what do we get? Nothing,” says Davide, who was brought up in the Monte Mario camp. “Not even papers. Where are our rights? We have no rights. We are no people with no nation.”