Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Roma - Europe's poor of the poor

Further to an earlier blog here , Europe's roughly 10 million Roma remain the poorest of the poor, often migrating abroad in search of work .

The Czech Republic guilty of discriminating against Roma children by placing them in special schools for the mentally handicapped. In Slovakia at least 90% of Roma children attend special schools for the mentally retarded. In Hungary, several local courts have ruled in favour of Roma children who sued the state for discrimination, for placing them in special schools. In Romania and Bulgaria up to one-third of Roma children were not in school, a proportion which reaches 80% in Bosnia-Hercegovina. A report from Amnesty International criticised shortcomings in primary education in Slovenia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia which it said "deprive Romani children of the chance of fulfilling their true potential".

"Although a lot of improvements have been made in the education system, the level of illiteracy in the Roma community is still high and 35-40% of Roma children don't have access to school," Magda Matache, executive director for Romani Criss, a Roma human rights group says

About one million Roma children "remain invisible" in South-East Europe, without documents or adequate healthcare, a Unicef report says. 50,000 Roma children live as refugees in Germany.

The Roma suffer three fold-prejudice in the UK. Firstly because they are Gypsies, secondly because they are often asylum seekers or refugees and thirdly because many are Romanian.

The Romanian author Mircea Cartarescu points out that it was the Romanians who forced the Roma into a life of misery and delinquency - by enslaving them.

"For centuries they could be bought and sold, families were torn apart, children taken from their mothers, women separated from their men. The young women were generally raped by their owners and the 'flock of crows', as they were called, was the target of general contempt and discrimination. One of the voivodes, or provincial governors, used to have them climb trees and then shot them down with arrows. He called it crow-hunting. Tied to one place and kept like animals, the gypsies multiplied more quickly in the Romanian principalities than anywhere else in Europe. Therefore we only have ourselves to blame for creating the gypsy problem. It is our historical guilt. ... We are appalled when other countries perceive us as a nation of criminals, but we see the gypsies in exactly the same way." he said

1 comment:

ajohnstone said...

Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions has announced criticism of Slovakia, where about 120,000 members of the Roma community live in slums, lacking basics such as water and electricity.

The centre said Slovakia's Roma faced persistent discrimination and lived in conditions that constituted a grave human rights violation.

The situation was made all the more disturbing, it claimed, because Slovakia had received substantial financial aid from the EU aimed at improving housing standards and ending discrimination against the minority group.