The life of the Roma people is, in too many cases, marked with many obstacles. Due to the stigma, they’re surrounded by a lack of understanding and often placed in a bad position. Therefore, they are denied many rights and opportunities, solely based on the fact that their ethnicity puts them on a “minority” list. Traces of discrimination are present in education, health care, employment, and many other fields.
In Europe, there are between 10 and 12 million Roma. Historians think Roma’s ancestors first arrived in Europe from northern India. They gradually spread their way across the whole of Europe from the 9th century onwards. They came to the Balkans in the 13th century and continued to live there ever since. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, they are recognized as the largest of all of the 17 minorities in the country – and also the most neglected and vulnerable of all.
The amount of issues they face is enormous, from childhood onward. According to UNICEF, almost 80% of Roma children in B&H live below the poverty line “on the basis of income, education, amenities and health deprivations”.
Many Roma communities are placed in very isolated locations, often without electricity, clean water, or health care institutions available to them. Roma children are faced with segregation in educational institutions and are often left with lower quality of education or even without it. Many Roma children do not even attend school. That results in much lower literacy levels when compared to non-Roma people. Besides education, they are faced with big obstacles regarding employment and professional advancement which makes their life even more difficult. This makes it harder to escape poverty, which is particularly high among Roma. One of the issues is also the fact that they are underrepresented in the government, both local and national.
As already mentioned, obstacles are present in various fields when it comes to this population. Access to health care is one of them. According to the World Bank, problems when it comes to access to health care (and other important public services) are driven by, among other factors, poor language skills and lack of personal documents which is an issue of a great number of Roma.
The greatest concern of all remain the deep prejudices they are faced with on the regular basis. Discrimination from governments and from individuals has caused great damage to this population, and it continues to last throughout the years. They are placed on the margins of society and have to struggle every day for things that should be entitled to every single person – not based on ethnicity, language or color, but simply on being a human being. Every person deserves, regardless of those things, an equal treatment, fundamental rights, freedom and respect.
It is a fact that nobody’s life chances should be determined by their ethnic origin. AHEAD is focused on creating a better world by promoting those values and fighting discrimination against Roma as well as other minorities.
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