Living standards for Europe's Roma comparable to sub-Saharan Africa, UN reports

16 January 2003

The literacy, infant mortality and basic nutrition rates of most of the four to five million Roma in Europe are closer to levels in sub-Saharan Africa than those for other Europeans, according to a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched today in Brussels.

UNDP's Roma Human Development Report, "Avoiding the Dependency Trap," points out that nearly half of the Roma surveyed are unemployed, and close to one in six is "constantly starving." Only 60 per cent of the households have running water, and fewer than half have toilets in their homes. It adds that only a third of the Roma surveyed completed primary school, while only one percent attended college.

"The international community needs to consider Roma issues from a broader developmental perspective and ensure that Roma people have equal access to education and job opportunities," said Kalman Mizsei, UNDP Director for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, who supervised the survey, which was carried out in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.


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