Bulgaria: Attacks on ambulance crews launch new discussion about Romani integration
According to the Bulgarian Government, last year there were 227 attacks on ambulance crews, 175 of them perpetrated by Romani people. Ambulance crews there are said to fear driving to areas where Romani people live.
The conflict has now been exacerbated by Bulgarian Health Minister Petar Moskov, who directly called on medics not to visit locations where they don't feel safe. The minister also declared that "those who choose to behave like animals deserve to be treated like them."
The opposition and several non-governmental organizations have called for the minister's resignation. Many medics, on the other hand, have hung signs on their ambulances supporting Moskov.
According to a public opinion survey, the minister's popularity has risen from 13 % to 27 % as a result of his remarks. In addition to the discussion of the safety of emergency responders, the number of attacks in Romani ghettos and settlements and the fate of the Health Minister, a new round of debate has also begun in Bulgaria regarding Romani integration which Reuters reports is "a new challenge to European efforts in include this largest ethnic minority into society."
Romani life expectancy shorter by 10 years
Reuters reports that "Bulgaria received a total of EUR 6.9 billion between 2007 and 2013 from EU funds for the integration of disadvantaged persons. That money was spent on a broad range of areas, including the Roma, providing financial aid for building up the education system and for housing. From 2014-2020, Bulgarians are slated to receive EUR 7.2 billion from the funds."
According to critics of the current state of affairs in Bulgarian society, however, the state has done practically nothing for Romani integration. Attacks on emergency medical technicians arriving in excluded localities are naturally a serious problem and can neither be excused or minimized, but they remind us of the other side of this issue: The conditions in which impoverished Romani people live in Bulgaria.
According to government estimates, 40 % of Roma in Bulgaria have no health insurance, and Romani life expectancy is 10 years less than the average for the majority population. Despite the extensive EU subsidies and political programs, the situation of the Roma has not changed for years.
The health of Romani people in the Czech Republic
Attacks on medics are also a problem in the Czech Republic, and emergency responders here have repeatedly lobbied to be given the legal status of a "public official". The number of serious attacks is not increasing here, but doctors working with ambulance crews encounter verbal attacks and insults almost daily.
Most of these attacks are from patients under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and when traveling to high-risk locations, ambulance crews request police assistance. From the resources publicly available, there is no mention of Romani people attacking medics or of emergency responders being afraid to visit Romani ghettos here in the Czech Republic.
What is remarkable, nevertheless, is a further comparison with the situation for Romani people in Bulgaria: Even though the Czech Republic is a significantly wealthier country, and even though the number of people at risk of poverty here is exponentially fewer, the inequality of health outcomes here is similar to that of Bulgaria. A 2014 Czech Health Ministry report on the health of the population of the Czech Republic, in a chapter entitled "Romani Health", states the following: "Socioeconomic determinants, environmental conditions, a comparatively worse lifestyle and its repercussions are the main causes of the adverse state of health of this population. Their comparatively worse state of health overall is characterized by the incidence of chronic diseases earlier in life, a higher rate of premature mortality (an average of 10-15 years earlier), and more frequent occurrence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and diseases of the digestive and respiratory tracts. Infant mortality is falling but still remains double that of the majority population."
Life expectancy that is 10-15 years shorter, twice the infant mortality rates. Another comparison arises: How and where has the integration of Romani people progressed in the Czech Republic during the last 25 years?
- Bulgaria: Roma blockade demolition of their homes, riot police intervene
- A Flood Lays Bare Inequality in Bulgaria
- Greek court refuses repatriation to Bulgarian Romani child
- Germany: Thousands of Bulgarians and Romanians exploited by landlords in Berlin
- Germany: Bavarian CSU continues crusade against immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania
- Citizens of Bulgaria and Romania can now work EU-wide, London fears influx of Roma
- Bulgaria insisting Romani girl be returned from Greece
- Child removed from Greek Romani family might be from Bulgarian Romani family
- Denitsa Mihaylova: A Bulgarian woman proud of her Roma origin
- Norwegian MP tars Bulgarian, French and Romani people with the same brush
- British concerns over influx of Bulgarians and Romanians said to be exaggerated
- Bulgarian man shoots dead three Romani people before committing suicide
- Roma Woman Wins Case against Bulgaria at Strasbourg
- Bulgaria: Man dies as result of bombing of Euroroma office
- Bulgaria: Bomb explodes in front of Euroroma headquarters
- Bulgarian and Czech PMs discuss Romani minority and Schengen
- Bulgaria: New anti-Roma protests, State Security Council convened
- Romani organizer from North Macedonia discusses democracy with Barack Obama at Copenhagen Democracy Summit
- Czech Police seem to prevent Romani refugees from disembarking at station, but say they just informed them there is no accommodation available in the country's second-largest city
- Bulgarian MEP fined for giving Nazi salute at the EP, Czech MEP calls it a mild warning
- Bulgarian MEP infamous for anti-Roma rhetoric gives Nazi salute on the floor of the European Parliament
- Elena Gorolová: Czech state compensation for illegal sterilizations is more of a gesture, it will never make up for the children we couldn't have
- Family turns to crowdfunding for daughter's post-brain surgery recovery, Czech insurance doesn't cover therapy that gets results
- Czech Senate Committee on Social Policy recommends rejection of bill authorizing attachment of welfare benefits over local unpaid fines
- LGBT+ members of Romani communities were part of Prague Pride this year, activists introduced program to aid people experiencing multiple discrimination
- In the Czech Republic, mobile teams have begun vaccinating people against COVID-19 in socially excluded localities
- Czech authorities could levy hefty fines against authors of discriminatory classified ads saying Roma need not apply
- More Roma citizens of Romania attempting to cross from Mexico into the USA to seek asylum this year
- Karel Karika: I've had my first jab, the vaccine is the way back to normal life