The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has just released its latest Minorities and Discrimination Survey. The study deals with the situation of Roma in nine EU member states: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Hungary, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia.
The FRA publication shows there are huge problems in several areas. Especially in Bulgaria, most Roma are far from being granted their fundamental rights. Poverty, exclusion from good education and discrimination on the job market, as well as in other areas, are just some of the problems. The situation is not only worrisome, but scandalous.
In the nine countries surveyed, 80 per cent of all Roma live below the poverty threshold. In Bulgaria, the rate is 86 per cent, and therefore substantially higher than the average, compared to 22 per cent of the general population.
In all nine countries surveyed, one third of all Roma live in housing without tap water, 50% of all Roma aged six to 22 do not attend school. The publication also cites “intolerable discrimination and unequal access to vital services”. The right to non-discrimination guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is not being fulfilled in many countries, including Bulgaria. This is one of the most alarming results of the study.
The basis for the study is an in-depth survey, which includes information collected from far more than 30,000 people living in Roma households in the countries mentioned. FRA is hoping that their publication will reinvigorate efforts to promote the Roma minority’s full inclusion.
Education is one of the most important fields the organization did research in. The conclusion they came to: The proportion of Roma early school-leavers is disproportionately high, compared with the general population. School segregation remains a problem in Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Slovakia, despite the legal prohibition of this practice and recent legal cases at the European Court of Human Rights.
In Bulgaria, 9% of compulsory-school-age children from Roma families do not go to school. School segregation is another issue.
Things are looking grim regarding jobs, as well. In those nine countries combined, 25% of all Roma aged 16 or older are employed, while 34% are unemployed. The rest keep the house, are enlisted in the army, or retired. In Bulgaria, these already worrisome numbers, regarding unemployment, are significantly higher. In this country, only 23% of all Roma are employed, while 55% are unemployed.
The rate of 16 to 24-year-old Bulgarians of Romani origin, who are neither in work, nor in education or training, is even more alarming. This applies to 65%, while the rate is 79% for girls and women, and 52% for boys and men.
In the health field, Bulgaria’s numbers are catastrophic. Only 45% of all Bulgarians of Romani origin, aged 16 or older, are covered by a national, basic health insurance. This is by far the worst rate of all countries, which are part of the study.
As the distinguished reader might have guessed, the living conditions for Roma are terrible as well. In Bulgaria, 65% of all Roma live in dwellings without any toilet, shower or bathroom inside. This is the second highest rate, while, in this regard, the situation is worse only in neighbouring Romania.
The full Report entitled “Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey” can be obtained here.