On international Romani Day, NGOs demand respect for basic rights of Roma
Brussels, 08/04/2016. - Roma are neglected casualties of the refugee crisis, according to a coalition of NGOs. At the European Parliament Roma Week, Roma organizations have shed light how the current sense of crisis in Europe is having negative impacts on Roma both living inside and coming from outside the EU.
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As the refugee crisis continues to make the front pages, the EU is facing a new, bitter wave of right-wing populism in almost all Member States. The focus on refugees and economic migrants has brushed aside concerns linked to internal forms of discrimination and xenophobia, which must not be ignored.
Roma are subject to many of the same hardships that affect refugees and economic migrants, especially in non-EU countries (e.g. Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo). While they may not be escaping war and terror, they flee poverty, mounting discrimination, and xenophobia. As a direct consequence of the migration crisis, legitimate asylum claims may be denied without due consideration. Current practices include non-registration of EU Roma migrants and deportation of Roma from one EU country to another.
These new challenges come on top of longstanding institutional discrimination and anti-gypsyism, including reduced access to basic services such as healthcare. This equally concerns Roma with EU citizenship in many parts of Europe. Roma are still facing serious barriers to accessing basic services. This translates into worsened health conditions for Europe’s Romani population, already poor compared to other population groups.
“It is unacceptable that many Roma suffering from prejudices and being victims of anti-gypsyism are simply considered economic migrants and are denied from their basic human right to be treated equally and with dignity”, said Sebihana Skenderovska, Health programme coordinator at the Macedonian National Roma Centrum.
“In properly implementing the Roma integration strategies, national governments should not rely only the individual projects implemented by civil society. A more structural approach, appropriate resources and political commitment are needed with the active involvement of the Roma themselves. Roma should be the steering force behind any structural action”, stressed Florin Nasture, President of the Roma Cultural Center O Del Amenca Association in Romania.
On International Romani Day, EPHA, the Macedonian National Roma Centrum and the Roma Cultural Center O Del Amenca Association demand not only respect for fundamental rights of Roma to a proper assessment of their individual circumstances combined with opportunities for legal migration, but also, that Roma integration and Roma health must remain high on the agenda, even more so in times of crisis.
Note to editors:
Average life expectancy of Roma in Macedonia is 73.5 years, but only 68 years for the Roma population UNDP/ILO data indicate that Roma in Bulgaria have a life expectancy on average 5-6 years lower than that of other Bulgarians In light of collected data by the Fundamental Rights Agency, on average, about 20 % of Roma respondents are not covered by medical insurance or do not know if they are covered, See more data at Joint pro-Roma civil society contribution to the public consultation on access to health services in the EU – www.epha.org/6391
The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) is a change agent – Europe’s leading NGO advocating for better health. We are a dynamic member-led organisation, made up of public health NGOs, patient groups, health professionals, and disease groups working together to improve health and strengthen the voice of public health in Europe. EPHA is a member of, among others, the Social Platform, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), the EU Civil Society Contact Group and the Better Regulation Watchdog. http://www.epha.org/
Macedonian National Roma Centrum (NRC) is a professional, non-profit association for promotion and protection of human rights of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia. NRC supports Roma and other people living in social risk through people mobilization and empowerment, using rights based advocacy and participatory approach to fulfill their fundamental rights and enjoy their freedoms as equal in the society. NRC was founded in December 2005 in Kumanovo. http://nationalromacentrum.org/en/
Roma Cultural Center O Del Amenca Association is a Roma non-governmental organization established to mobilize Roma and non-Roma for civic action, including cultural activities. www.odelamenca.ro