Living Conditions for Roma Not Improving Enough

By 6 April 2018

ZAGREB, April 6, 2018 - Speaking at a ceremony marking International Roma Day on Friday, Croatian Roma MP Veljko Kajtazi said not enough was being done to create better living conditions for Roma and to implement the government's strategic and operational programmes.

"I am convinced that we can do more and we have shown this in certain areas... and this additionally motivates us," Kajtazi said at the ceremony at the Croatian State Archive.

He said the strategic documents were excellently written and that all the key problems of the Roma community had been detected, but cited irresponsibility in implementation, stakeholders unwilling to deal with the issues within their remit, and lack of money and a legal framework.

"The inefficiency of the system creates a vicious circle which results in tough living conditions for Roma," Kajtazi said, adding that they faced what other ethnic minorities faced to a lesser extent - social exclusion, high unemployment, low education access, poor housing and, consequently, poor health.

He said social exclusion was especially evident in physical separation from the majority population. "Ghettoisation, which many won't recognise and admit, is a burning problem which has created parallel worlds in which Roma live and in which their problems are far from the eyes of the central but also local government. A lot has been done in that regard, invested and carried out through dialogue. However, that is all going too slowly."

According to data of the national statistical office, there were 16,975 Roma in Croatia in 2011, but it is estimated that their actual number is between 30,000 and 40,000, said the prime minister's envoy Marija Pletikosa. She said that, although their legal status was regulated, Roma were still exposed to degradation and oppression in everyday life and that more should be done "to offer this group of citizens better protection."

Pletikosa said poverty and social exclusion were widespread in the Roma community and that 12% of them were on guaranteed minimum social welfare.

Diminished access to education, low education levels, living in poor conditions and low employment are just some of the factors contributing to the permanent marginalisation of the community and its dependence on social welfare, she added.