About the Roma
The history of the Roma is, seen from a social and humanitarian perspective, a dark one. A history that they to some degree also share with the Jewish people. During the holocaust many Roma were sent to the Nazi concentration and labor camps. A widely used estimate for the number of Roma killed during World War II is 500,000. Social exclusion and intolerance have for many years been is and still is the norm. At various times Roma have been subjected to expulsion or arrest solely on the basis of their ethnicity.
As an ethnic group they originate from the northern parts of India. But by the early part of the first millennia they, for reasons unknown to us, migrated from the northern parts of what is today known as India, towards Europe. They are known under many different names; Gypsis, that they, mistakenly originated for Egypt, or Tzigane, a degrading name. Today they are commonly known under the name Roma.
The situation of the Roma today
Today, the Roma is Europe’s largest minority, found in many of the European countries. In recent years, their situation has become increasingly more difficult. Ironically, after the fall of communism in Europe, the situation for Roma deteriorated markedly in many respects. Even though the Roma are spread throughout Europe, Romania together with Bulgaria has Europe’s largest population of Romans.
In Romania, with a population of 22 million, the Romans make up 2.5% (el. 535,000) of the population. But an unofficial estimate claims that they are more than that, figures between 8.3 – 11.5% of the population, which corresponds to a number between 1,800,000 – 2,500,000 Roma. But it is difficult to have these figures confirmed.
The proportion of poor people in Roma is three times higher than the average proportion of poor in Romania. Poverty among the country’s Roma is complex and multidimensional. It is related to a number of different factors, including poor health and educational status. Limited opportunities in the labor market and discrimination, all of which give birth to a vicious cycle of poverty and segregation, resulting in unemployment and social exclusion. A downward spiral that is difficult to get out of. The Romans, as an ethnic group, depend to a large extent on the help of the community to survive.
In recent years, especially since entering the EU, some progress has been made to bring the situation of the Roma to the attention of the political arena. A drop in racially motivated crimes against Roma has dropped. Efforts has been taken to better the conditions of the Roma throughout Europe. Sadly, much is still needed to even the misjustice and better the social integration of the Roma into modern society.