"Where is the essence of humanity when every single day Roma people are excluded from society?" - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
Roma in Europe have a lower life expectancy and a higher child mortality rate than non-Roma people, according to a new report by the European Roma Grassroots Organization.
It documents the living conditions of Roma and Sinti communities shows they are Europe's largest, and most disadvantaged, minority.
The report notes that Roma experience significantly unequal treatment in the health care sector. One in five members of the Roma community suffers from chronic disease, while one in four does not have health insurance. The data was drawn from national studies and found that the Roma community has severe difficulty accessing health care services in numerous EU member states.
Conditions have not improved since the 2020 EU Roma Strategic Framework for Equality, Inclusion and Political Participation. In fact, the COVID pandemic appears to have exacerbated the situation.
Living conditions in Roma communities were indicative of how state bodies functioned, said Elvis Memeti, the national Roma contact point for North Macedonia.
"The gap in living conditions, infrastructure, education, organization and functionality of the system in provision of public goods and services between Roma and non-Roma is increasing," he said.
Adriatik Hasantari of the organization Roma Active Albania in Tirana pointed out racism and antiziganism were still prevalent throughout the system and handed down from one generation to the next, independent of political convictions.
"Imagine a kid who was evicted from its home already several times by the age of five," said Hasantari. "How should this person ever build trust in the system or contribute to it later?"
Dejan Markovic from the Serbian Roma Forum in Belgrade pointed to data from the recent report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.
"Today still more than half, 61%, of the Romani population has no access to adequate housing or water, one third, 31%, of the children suffer because they don't have proper food to eat," he said. "The reason is the lack of political will to really make a change."
Aleksandra Bojadijeva from the Regional Cooperation Council added that to date, only symptoms — not the root causes — had been addressed.
"It's high time to tackle antiziganism, as it is the root cause of everything that has happened to Roma in the past centuries."