Roma populations across Europe face new and acute challenges. Longstanding material deprivation and social exclusion have been compounded by a steep rise in violent and often lethal attacks on Roma communities in EU member states.
What makes the current situation even more alarming is that this spike in extremism is occurring in parallel with continued efforts to elaborate a comprehensive and integrated approach to Roma inclusion. For example, the Decade of Roma Inclusion is approaching the midpoint of its mandate; the EU hosted the first ever European Roma Summit in September 2008; and an EU Integrated Platform on Roma Inclusion was launched in 2009, its priorities directly reflecting Decade goals.
To address the new challenges that face the Roma, a more community-based approach to resolving conflicts where they actually occur must complement the plethora of top-down, policy-oriented advocacy efforts. To learn more about effective methods of community organizing, six Roma activists from Bulgaria, Hungary, Kosovo, Serbia, and Romania visited the United States to learn about African-American communities and their struggle for civil rights. Despite differences in context and characteristics, many analogies have been drawn between the two communities, and the meetings provided valuable lessons for the Roma activists.
In one of the videos above, Zeljko Jovanovic, a senior policy officer at the Open Society Institute Roma Initiatives discusses the group’s visit.
Marian Daragiu, one of the founders of the Ruhama Foundation in Romania, also participated in the visit. In the video, he describes the work of the Ruhama Foundation in the field of educational and social inclusion for Roma children and their parents.