Half Of Serbia Roma Face Poverty
Almost half of all Roma in Serbia live in abject poverty, while 60% have no access to education, a Roma Rights group says.
A lack of state policy and discrimination are cited as the biggest problems facing Serbia’s Roma according to Belgrade-based Roma Information Centre.
In Serbia, 60 percent of the country’s unemployed are Roma with many of them living in illegal settlements, one of which is known as Carbon City at the outskirts of Belgrade.
“The state looks at us as poor people who constantly need aid. Instead, they should see us as active citizens who will work and earn for themselves and be socially responsible as other people,” Rosalija Ilic, the Executive Director of the Centre said.
The data, published on Tuesday, comes as International Roma Day is marked across the globe.
2008 is the third year of the European Union-backed initiative, the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015, launched with aiming to integrate Roma into societies where they live.
Serbia has granted Roma the right of creating their own cultural policy, but according to Osman Balic, the director of YURom Centre, the state has not defined its own cultural policy at all administrative levels.
He also stressed the importance of the lack of policy towards Roma generally.
The 2002 census showed around 108,000 Roma live in Serbia, while UNICEF statistics estimate that between 400,000 and 700,000 Roma reside in the country.
The discrepancy could be in Roma’s reluctance to declare themselves as such, due to discrimination and even physical attacks on them by skinheads and other racist groups.
The International Day of Roma is a day to celebrate Roma culture and raise awareness of the issues facing them.
The day was officially declared in 1990 in Serock, Poland, the site of the fourth World Romani Congress of the International Romani Union (IRU), in honour of the first major international meeting of Roma representatives on 7-12 of April, 1971 in Chelsfield, near London.
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