An international reconstruction project in Hungary

Between 2010 and 2012, the Central Council – in collaboration with the International Building Organisation and the NGO Phralipe Independent Gypsy Organization – realised an international reconstruction project in several Hungarian towns.

The project targeted those Roma families who had lost family members in the 2008 and 2009 racially motivated murders, and whose houses had been severely damaged or destroyed in the arson attacks committed by the murderers. Overall, six people were murdered including a five-year-old boy – he was shot together with his father when the latter attempted to get out of the burning house with his children.  Five more people were seriously injured, also including a child.

The goal of the reconstruction project was to provide the families of the murder victims with adequate housing, to rebuild the destroyed buildings and to renovate the damaged ones. Many volunteers from across Europe and Japan participated in the project, which sent a visible signal of solidarity with the families and made it clear that such racist murders and attacks would not be tolerated. The young people who had voluntarily helped with the construction work came from Bulgaria, Hungary, Belgium, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries. Relatives and friends of the affected families were also actively involved in the construction work, assisting and contributing as much as they were able. Altogether 12 houses were repaired or rebuild in this way.

The German foundation “Erinnerung, Verantwortung, Zukunft” provided the start-up funding for this project. The reconstruction work, however, was funded by the Hungarian government, who allocated eight million Hungarian forints (ca. 30,000€), and by the donations form CSOs, businesses and individuals.

Theo Zwanziger and the German Football Association (DFB) supported the initiative, particularly in the area of public relations. Making use of the media publicity surrounding the international football match between Hungary and Germany on 29 May 2010, the DFB sent a clear signal of solidarity with the families of the murder victims and against racism. Some of the families affected by the attacks were guests of honour at the match. A delegation consisting of the DFB, the Central Council, Petra Pau, Vice-President of the Bundestag, and Dorothee Janetzke-Wenzel, German ambassador to Hungary, visited the village Tatárszentgyörgy prior to the football match; Tatárszentgyörgy is the location of one of the reconstruction projects. The delegation was briefed on the progress of the renovation work and the DFB presented the local football team with footballs and football shirts.