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Roma assistants to help with Czech census in Ústí region

Ústí nad Labem, 18.12.2010 14:27, (ROMEA)

Roma assistants in the Ústí region of the Czech Republic are going to help with next year's census, and members of the Roma community are going to receive fliers explaining what the census is good for. The Czech Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs is doing its best to break down the mistrust of the Roma community toward the census and to address concerns that data provided on nationality might be abused. Ondřej Kubala, press spokesperson for the 2011 Census of People, Houses and Apartments, announced the news to the Czech Press Agency at a press conference yesterday.

If more Roma people in the Ústí region were to officially declare their Roma nationality than the 0.2 % of the population that declared such nationality in the census 10 years ago, Roma communities might gain greater influence at municipal level. "If the census shows that 10 % of the residents of a particular village are members of a minority, they then have the right to form a special committee in order to have more influence in local affairs. For example, they might decide on the creation of bilingual signs. The minority would also have the right to communicate with the authorities in its own language," Kubala explained. At regional level, a minority need only demonstrate it constitutes 5 % of the population in order to exercise greater influence. Other minorities in the region and throughout the country will receive instructions on how to complete the census form in English, French, German, Polish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

Roma in the socially excluded localities of the Ústí and Moravian-Silesian regions will not only receive their census forms through the post like others living in the Czech Republic, but will also be visited by specially trained Roma advisers or by the field workers who ordinarily contact them. The number of such census workers has not yet been precisely established for the Ústí region, but they will be paid like other census commissioners. "There will certainly be a need for dozens of them, maybe as many as 100," Eva Košatková from the Office of the Czech Government for Roma Minority Affairs told the Czech Press Agency today.

The 2011 Census of People, Houses and Apartments starts in the Czech Republic on 26 March. This is the first year that everyone in the EU will undergo the census at the same time. Thanks to the use of a standard methodology EU-wide, the data gathered will be comparable across countries. Another innovation is that people will be able to send in a completed census form through the internet or through a data box. The census commissioners - as many as 95 % of them - are expected to be employees of the Czech Postal Service with whom the Czech Statistical Office has concluded a contract. The total budget for the census is CZK 2.48 billion.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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