The Romanian government’s "Strategy for Roma" is doing too little to address discrimination and social exclusion experienced by Roma communities throughout Romania, according to a new report by the Resource Center for Roma Communities and OSI’s EU Monitoring and Advocacy and Roma Participation Programs.
Three years after its adoption, implementation of the Strategy also continues to ignore or exclude the knowledge, skills, and experience that Roma groups could provide. These are among the findings of Monitoring the Local Implementation of the Government Strategy, the first report prepared by non-governmental organizations to monitor the Romanian government's Strategy at the local level.
Roma organizations and activists are focusing on the Strategy because it is a key component of the government's efforts to improve the situation of Roma. Romania has the largest Roma population in Europe, unofficially estimated at 2.5 million.
Roma activists engaged by the RCRC conducted local monitoring in five Romanian counties: Cluj, Iasi, Timis, Dolj, and Braila. The objectives were to produce an independent monitoring report on the Strategy and develop public policy monitoring capacity among young Roma activists. Monitors today called upon Roma organizations to continue monitoring the implementation of the Strategy and also to follow up on findings with the appropriate authorities.
According to the monitoring results, the government must make much stronger efforts to address major issues impacting Romania's Roma population such as racially motivated violence, discrimination, unequal access to quality education, to employment and to healthcare, and inadequate housing conditions.
The report notes that progress has been made in a number of small-scale initiatives, mostly funded through the EU’s Phare program, that have helped some Roma to acquire identity papers, offered family planning advice, increased access to schools, and provided job training. As the only governmental contribution for Strategy implementation to date has been through such EU co-funding, more resources should be directed towards systematic changes in policies and programs, underpinned by clear political will.