UNICEF about the situation of Roma Children in South East Europe
On the occasion of a joint conference with the German Children’s Commission of the German Bundestag, 5 March 2007, UNICEF presented a study on the situation of Roma children in seven south-Eastern European countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, as well as Kosovo. In this region, there are an estimated 3.7 million Roma, about 1.7 million of them (46%) are children. The World Bank estimates that the Roma population may actually be five times higher than the census data reports. The overwhelming majority of Roma are poor and among the most excluded people in south-Eastern Europe. While a minority of Roma have integrated into mainstream society; policies, institutions and individuals have not changed. Their perceptions of Roma are based on stereotypes and prejudices.
The report, based on a desk study conducted by UNICEF, seeks to raise awareness of the extent to which children, especially Roma, suffer from social exclusion. It also attempts to identify the key causes of exclusion and the limitations in the capacity of individuals and institutions responsible for enabling children to enjoy their rights. Available information and identified data gaps which need to be filled for the development and implementation of effective interventions are also presented within the report.
The main body of the report analyses three dimensions of exclusion of the child: the environment, early childhood and education. The “Environment of the Child? explores how exclusion of the community and of the Roma family influences the life and opportunities of the child. The chapter on “Early Childhood? focuses on the relationship between the mother and the child from infancy until the child begins school. “Education? presents the main challenges and opportunities for excluded children. Education is key to breaking the intergenerational cycle of exclusion and poverty.