Home Human Rights The wall against anti-Gypsyism – Reports on Roma rights in the Western Balkans

The wall against anti-Gypsyism – Reports on Roma rights in the Western Balkans

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The photo is part of a previous photo exhibition titled “Under the Same Roof” which depicts the daily life of Roma people in the Western Balkans. Photo: Dragan Kujundzic.

In late 2017, Civil Rights Defenders published five reports on Roma rights in the Western Balkans. For more than twenty years, the situation of Roma in the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) has received increasing attention in national and international politics. National strategies and action plans have been developed – millions of euros have been invested in projects and programs for the social inclusion of Roma.

There are some achievements to report: a growing number of Roma activists and an increasing number of Roma attending and completing secondary and university education. Progress has been made in preventing statelessness and hundreds of houses have been built for vulnerable Roma families.

However, no systemic change has been achieved – nor is it in sight. The living conditions of the overwhelming majority of Roma remain unchanged and relations between Roma and non-Roma could even deteriorate. Discrimination and other aspects of anti-Gypsyism dominate Roma lives. Governments barely adhere to the policies and laws they have adopted.

For a considerable part of the Roma in the Western Balkans, migration seems to be the only solution to escape discrimination and access better opportunities. According to assessments, between 2008 and 2016, more than 200,000 Roma from Western Balkan countries sought asylum in Western Europe, which would represent around 20% of the region’s Roma population.

In order to analyze and understand these phenomena, it is necessary to identify the reasons that led to this situation.

The socio-economic situation, the exclusion, the refusal of national governments to recognize the situation and address it appropriately, the indifference towards crimes committed against the Roma, the silent complicity of the Western Balkan governments and the views of Western European and European Union governments. According to the Union institutions, the announcement of policies aimed at guaranteeing equal opportunities is sufficient and does not necessarily have to be followed by concrete policies or implementations, this can be attributed to only one reason: the anti-Gypsyism which prevails in Europe.


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