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The Municipality of Mesologi ( Μεσολόγγι) belongs administratively to the Region of Western Greece. It is located 245 km West North of Athens.
Roma in the municipality of Mesologi live in many distinct communities, situated in different places and having various types of establishments, and they are settled in three main areas:
1) Mesologi City (Μεσολόγγι):
a) "Tabakaria" neighborhood (200 - 230 people). They live in houses allocated in the 1950s by judgment of the then Queen of Greece, Frederica of Hanover;
b) The area close to "Evinos" River (120 - 150 people) in a camp of huts, shacks and containers;
2) Etoliko city (Αιτωλικό):
a) "Pump Station" area which is near the lagoon and is protected by the "Ramsar" Convention. They live there in containers (280 - 320 people).
b) "Stadium" location (about 300 persons) in very old houses.
c) "Kotisi" neighborhood (about 50 - 60 people) in very old houses.
d) There are also about 35 - 40 families which are dispersed in small groups of 5-10 families each, in all Etoliko city (approximately 200 people).
3) Villages around Mesologi and Etoliko cities.
There are about 50-80 Roma families in villages around the two cities mentioned above ("Evinochori", "Magoula", "Katochi" and others) who live mainly in houses (about 500 people).
In 2016, after encouragements from one member of the CAG, a new group of about 15 young Roma community members of Iniades started participating in CAG meetings. Iniades is a community of about 40 families (200 people) residing in houses, for which the majority of families hold property documents. Roma in Iniades exercise mostly agricultural work and most their children attend school. The group from Iniades started immediately formulating separate thematic groups according to the issues regarding the housing, infrastructure education and employment.
In Mesolongi, the CAG is made up of Roma citizens from the three main areas described above. The community of Tabakaria counts three members, the community of Etoliko two and the community of Magoula one member. The average age of the CAG members (the core, as more Roma citizens attend meetings, however not on a regular basis – up to 27 persons), is well under 30 which makes the group dominantly young. One of the members attends University specializing in Information Technology, and another member (a young Roma woman) attends Second Chance School. However, the vast majority of the CAG members (core members and others) have rather low educational levels and have little or no experience in participatory politics. Some engage in seasonal work (scrap metal collection, agriculture) and as skilled workers.
One of the CAG members originating from the Tabakaria community was a candidate to become Municipal Councillor during the latest municipal elections but was finally not elected. Two other CAG members, mediators trained under ROMED1 and one of which is a woman, play a very active role in the dynamics of the CAG. One of them is the initiator of various activities in Etoliko, including the establishment of the local Roma Women’s Association .
In order to ensure sustainability of the process, the CAG decided to organise as a Local Roma Association. With the support of the ROMED National Support Team, they have already started the administrative procedures for its creation (drafting of statutory regulations).
To date, a Joint Action Plan between the CAG and the Local authorities in Mesologi has not been adopted, however evolutions in dialogue with the municipality indicate that this could be achieved during 2016.
After local elections in Greece in 2015, the new Municipal Authorities started formulating a plan for the relocation of Roma, in an area located 5-6 km outside the city, where they intend to build houses and settle the Roma of Mesologi. In the beginning of 2015, the National Team had meetings with the Contact Person who informed them about this plan that will change the overall aspect of the city, and is placed under the auspices of the Region of Western Greece, to be considered as developmental and therefore accepted. Plans for relocation of Roma often imply an attempt for segregation of the community, though in this case it has not been proven.
Urban development records in Greece demonstrated that Roma communities, in cases like this, have become the starting point for the expansion of cities in terms of social and financial growth. The plan, however, is not complete yet. By the time the final version is done, the National Team will make sure that the actual needs of the Roma community in Mesologi are taken into serious consideration, both at Municipal and Regional level as well.
Furthermore, meetings have taken place between municipal staff and CAG members, in search for a solution to problems regarding bureaucratic procedure in the issuing of health booklets, information about infrastructure work by the Technical Services and the scheduling of actions from the Cleaning and Maintenance Services of the Municipality.