July 30, 2008 / 12:30 AM / 11 years ago

FACTBOX: Facing discrimination: Roma around Europe

(Reuters) - Italy has been criticized over plans to crackdown on its Roma minority. Here are some details about Roma around Europe:

* EUROPEAN UNION:

— The EU executive has urged member states to offer better life opportunities to Roma people, who suffer discrimination.

— The Commission published a study saying Roma are often not given equal chances to advance socially across the EU, although they are covered by anti-discrimination rules including access to jobs, social security systems, services and housing.

* UNICEF REPORT:

— A 2005 UNICEF report said 84 percent of Roma in Bulgaria, 88 percent in Romania and 91 percent in Hungary lived below the poverty line.

— There were about 3.7 million Roma in the five countries covered by the report — Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia — 1.7 of whom are children.

— 53 percent of the Roma reportedly went hungry in the previous month whereas 9 percent of the non-roma population did.

* DECADE OF ROMA INCLUSION 2005-2015:

— The idea of the decade emerged from the first high-level regional conference on Roma held in Hungary in 2003.

— The decade is a commitment by governments in central and southeastern Europe to improve the socio-economic status and social inclusion of Roma. There are nine countries taking part, all of which have significant Roma minorities.

— In early 2008, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Spain declared their intention to join the decade.

* ROMA AROUND EUROPE:

HUNGARY - More than 600,000 Roma live in Hungary, mostly in the northeast, forming the biggest ethnic minority out of an overall population of 10 million.

— Discrimination is widespread. The EU has ranked the country among the worst offenders in terms of housing segregation.

ITALY - Between 130,000 and 150,000 Roma live in Italy, where they tend to be blamed for crime and insecurity.

— Italy had planned to fingerprint Roma living in camps as well as shutting down unauthorized camps and repatriate people who are in Italy illegally. The move was condemned by the European Parliament, Romania — where many Roma come from — and religious groups.

— Following the outcry, a parliamentary committee agreed that all citizens should be fingerprinted for their identity cards. The measure has yet to pass through parliament.

— Last May, several Roma camps were torched, sparking a diplomatic incident between Rome and Bucharest.

MACEDONIA - Between 150,000 and 250,000, or about 10.5 percent of the population.

— Roma have gained unique constitutional equality in Macedonia in a spin-off from a peace deal between the government and the largest minority, ethnic Albanians.

SLOVAKIA - 108,000. Slovakia’s Roma usually have limited access to jobs and education and often live in squalid conditions without basic public services.

* TURKEY - Roma people are not recognized by Turkey as a minority group. Attempts at organizing politically or even culturally may be seen as acts against the state, punishable by law. Between 300,000 and 500,000 Roma live in Turkey.

— Roma report frequent forced evictions.

Sources: Reuters/Economist/World Bank/www.rroma.org/ www.romadecade.org/

Writing by David Cutler and Jijo Jacob, London Editorial Reference Unit;

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