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80% of Roma are now at risk of poverty, EU survey finds

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Risk of poverty rates among Roma in the Czech Republic are low compared to other countries, but still six times that of the general population.


PRAGUE – The rate of poverty risk among millions of Roma living in the European Union is still at devastating levels as the group otherwise referred to as Gypsies face continued discrimination and isolation, according to a report released Tuesday by a EU rights agency.

The report, issued by the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), says that about 80 percent of almost 34,000 Roma, or Gypsies, surveyed in nine EU nations over six months ending in April, live below the poverty level, while every third Roma child goes to bed hungry at least once a month.

Among those nine countries, the risk of poverty rate among Romas in the Czech Republic is the lowest, at 58%, even though the figure is almost six times higher than that of the general population.

While the report identifies that nearly a third Roma children in the region are food insecure, it also indicates that 50 percent of people between the ages of 6 and 24 do not attend school.

“The results show that the proportion of Roma children attending schools in which all schoolmates are Roma ranges from 27% in Bulgaria to 3% in Spain. The share of children attending such schools is below 10% in the Czech Republic (5%), Croatia, Hungary and Romania (8% each),” the report states.

Source: Agency for Fundamental Rights.
Source: Agency for Fundamental Rights.

At the same time, 41% of Roma feel they have been discriminated against over the past 5 years in everyday situations such as looking for work, at work, housing, health and education. About one in three Roma (35%) indicate that their everyday activities have been limited in some way – either severely or to some degree – by health problems, compared to far lower rates for the general population at 25.1% and 21.8% for women and men respectively.

“Our manifest inability in Europe to honor the human rights of our Roma communities is unacceptable. The levels of deprivation, marginalization, and discrimination of Europe’s largest minority is a grave failure of law and policy in the EU and its Member States,” FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty said in a statement. “The publication of these findings provides an opportunity to galvanize policy makers into action and focus resources on redressing this intolerable situation.”

The findings in the report are based on 7,947 individual interviews with Roma.

Where the report paints a bleak picture for the treatment of Romas throughout the EU, there are some positive indicators. In the Czech Republic, nearly 100% of Roma families have access to electricity, while those living in households without tap water inside the dwelling is just 2%, which is below the 6.3% of the general population who have the same problem.

Of the nine countries surveyed, Roma households least deprived of basic sanitation amenities are in the Czech Republic (8%) and Spain (2%).

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