Work together to end vicious cycle of Roma discrimination and social exclusion(06 April 2012)

(c) European Union - Reporters
Europe must continue to pull together to combat Roma discrimination, prejudice, poverty and social exclusion, says the FRA on the occasion of the International Roma Day on April 8.

"Discrimination perpetuates the vicious circle of poverty and social exclusion: exclusion from education leads to exclusion from employment. This creates increased poverty, which forces people to live in poor or segregated housing. This affects their educational and job opportunities, and health. And so the circle starts again," says FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. "To break this circle, we need an integrated approach that promotes access to housing, employment, education and healthcare simultaneously."

On 30 April, the European Commission will come forward with a new communication on the integration of Roma. This will pave the way for more targeted and sustainable national approaches and strategies, including the effective use of EU structural funds, and the systematic measurement of progress on the ground.

"This must all be done not only for, but with the Roma. They must have a say, and take responsibility, in determining their own future," continued Morten Kjaerum. "We must develop a more positive relationship between Roma and non-Roma populations, involving them, addressing mutual fears, and acknowledging problems exist on both sides. Openness is the only way to bring us forward and break down hostile attitudes. Openness is the only way to fight prejudice and build community cohesion where it counts: locally."

Roma continue to face high levels of discrimination across the EU. They are also affected by anti-Roma hate crime and hate speech. A previous FRA survey highlighted, for instance, that 60% of Roma respondents had experienced ethnic discrimination when looking for work. On 30 April, the first results of new surveys by the FRA and UNDP and the World Bank will be published. This new report will provide robust and comparative data from 2011 on the socio-economic status of Roma alongside data on how they enjoy their rights in practice.

International Roma Day not only raises awareness about the issues Roma face. It is a day to celebrate Romani culture and their contribution to culture, music, and the arts. It is also a day that reminds everyone of the diversity and multicultural society in which we live, in which everyone is equal and should be treated so.

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