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Review of European efforts at Roma inclusion reveals gaps, worrying trends, but also possibilities

BRUSSELS (20 September 2017) – The European Union (EU) recently released its mid-term review of efforts by member States to improve the situation of Roma. It compared the situation of Roma in 2011 with that in 2016 in eight countries. The data reveal that the situation of Roma in Europe remains dire. 27 per cent of Roma reported hunger in their household in 2016. In education, the share of children attending school was broadly up, and school abandonment is down. However, segregation in education worsened, with a marked increase in Roma children attending Roma-only classes.

There are some positive developments: access to running water appears to be improving, and poverty rates appear to have fallen somewhat since 2011.

Roma who believe they have suffered discrimination on the job market, based on their ethnicity, has dropped from 50% to 40%. This figure is still alarmingly high.

In Portugal, the number of active young Roma even increased by 27% from 2011 to 2016. “The findings show that progress very much depends on the political will of national governments,” says Birgit Van Hout, UN Human Rights Representative for Europe. “This clearly shows that creativity and commitment at national level can lead to real improvements in the lives of people.”

In realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the global community recognized that the dignity of the individual is fundamental and that the needs of those who are furthest behind should be addressed first.

Overall, however, the mixed results and slow progress evident in the EU data indicate that anti-Gypsyism, or the stigmatization of the Roma population, remains deeply engrained. “The marginalization of the Roma violates core elements of international and European law. It is also contrary to the human rights values on which Europe prides itself,” says Claude Cahn, Human Rights Officer and discrimination expert at the UN Regional Human Rights Office in Brussels. “The EU mid-term review points to the need to strengthen the human rights-based elements in European policies concerning Roma, and to redouble efforts to combat racial discrimination. The UN’s Human Rights office stands ready to support the EU, States and civil society to strengthen the human rights elements of Roma inclusion policies.”

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United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination General Recommendation 27, Discrimination against Roma: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=INT%2fCERD%2fGEC%2f7499&Lang=en

UN Human Rights Office Global Study on the Human Rights Situation of Roma Worldwide: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Minorities/SRMinorities/Pages/GlobalStudyonRomaworldwide.aspx

For more information, please contact Mr. Claude Cahn: +32 2 274 01 70 / ccahn@ohchr.org