Many Roma in the EU live like people in the world’s poorer countries – rights agency report

Roma people in the European Union daily face basic challenges of poor sanitation, hunger and youth unemployment, according to a European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) report released on April 6 2018.

The report underlines the persistent inequalities that have long plagued Europe’s Roma in many countries of one of the world’s richest regions.

“Anti-Gypsyism, from discrimination to hate crime, fuels the vicious cycle of Roma exclusion. It leaves them as societal outcasts and treated in a stereotypical manner that is intolerable,” FRA director Michael O’Flaherty said.

“We need to break this vicious cycle. So why not start with the obvious – ensuring that each and every Roma enjoys the same opportunities as other EU citizens?” O’Flaherty said.

The report, entitled “A persisting concern: anti-Gypsyism as a barrier to Roma inclusion” says that EU countries are still falling short on most of their integration targets, despite efforts so far.

“Anti- Gypsyism” remains high with one out of three Roma being victims of harassment. EU countries need to recognise and monitor anti- Gypsyism, and take effective measures to combat such hate crime and hate speech, a FRA statement about the report said.

Living conditions for EU Roma have not changed much between 2011 and 2016: 80 per cent of Roma are at risk of poverty compared with an EU average of 17 per cent.

Thirty per cent live in households with no tap water. Their access to safe water is often on a par with people in Ghana or Nepal.

“Such conditions undermine progress in education, health or employment. This calls for greater efforts on reducing poverty including eliminating segregated housing, better access to public utilities like electricity and water as well as more social housing.”

Education has improved in some EU member states but gaps remain, the report said. More than 50 per cent of young Roma children attend early childhood education. This is often much less than non-Roma children their age.

As for pre-school education rates, Roma in the EU are similar to the people of Puerto Rico. “Member states should provide access to high quality education, learning support to compensate for the poor living conditions of many Roma pupils, as well as targeted support at every stage of their education.”

As to youth unemployment, the share of young Roma from 16-24, particularly women who are not in employment, education or training remains high compared to the general public.

“Member states need to boost employment, particularly for young Roma, through on-the-job training, traineeships and apprenticeships, for example. Roma should also receive targeted support to help them set up their own business,” FRA said.

(Photo: Rich Goatly/



The Sofia Globe staff

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