Roma population struggling with poverty and joblessness

Serbia marks International Roma Day, progress in inclusion

08 April, 20:18

    (ANSAmed) - BELGRADE, APRIL 8 - Poverty and high unemployment are the biggest problems facing the Roma population today, deputy president of Serbia's National Council of Roma National Minority Milos Paunkovic said on Monday during an event to mark International Roma Day. Ahead of the conference The Roma Between Inclusion and EU Integration, Paunkovic stressed that the Roma community needed to have a greater role in state bodies. The head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Vincent Degert, said that Serbia's efforts over the past few years to foster inclusion of the minority were reaping results, with ever greater numbers of Roma children attending school. OSCE Mission to Serbia chief Paula Thiede echoed his words in saying that Serbia had indeed made progress on Roma inclusion.

    She stressed that OSCE was committed to resolving the problem and that it was willing to assist Serbian authorities to achieve this end. Office for Human and Minority Rights director Suzana Paunovic underscored that much had been achieved as concerns the Roma community's access to healthcare and education, adding that the mortality rate of children in Roma neighborhoods had dropped by 50 percent since 2005. However, the latter figure is still double the national average.

    The introduction of healthcare mediators and pedagogical assistants have also yielded results, she said, noting that the percentage of Roma children enrolling in first grade had risen by 25 percent over the past five years. (ANSAmed)
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