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Half of Czech Romanies live in ghettos, annual report shows

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Prague, June 6 (CTK) – Half of the approximately 245,800 Romanies in the Czech Republic live in social exclusion and the situation did not improve in 2016, according to the annual report on the Romany minority that has been submitted to the Czech government.

“Half of the Romanies are integrated into society. The other half are Romanies who are socially excluded or threatened with social exclusion. They are marginalised and forced to the periphery of society,” the report writes.

Coordinators for Romany affairs estimate that Romanies represented 2.3 percent of the population, thus being the strongest minority in the country. In Slovakia, about 9 percent of the inhabitants are Romanies. Some 11 million Romanies have been living in Europe.

Half of Czech Romanies belong to the intelligentsia and the middle class. Many of them face racial discrimination, although they are well educated and successful at work, receive reasonable salaries and owe no money, the report writes.

Opinion polls show that Romanies have been the most unpopular minority in the country for years. The Czech government has not managed to improve the image of Romanies among the majority society until now, the report says, adding that this is a long-term task.

The highest concentration of Romanies is in the Usti Region (about 68,500) and the Moravia-Silesia Region (32,600), in which about 60 and 70 percent of them, respectively, live in social ghettos. In Prague, about 20 percent of the approximately 17,000 Romanies live in social exclusion.

Romanies often end up on the peripheries of towns or regions in hostels for poor people. Their access to standard accommodation is very limited as they have low earnings, they often live on welfare and get indebted.

Due to controlled moving of Romanies to certain neighbourhoods, more social ghettos have developed in recent years, the report writes.

From 2006 to 2014, the number of social ghettos doubled from 300 to 600 and the number of their poor inhabitants, mostly Romanies, increased from 80,000 to 115,000.

Romany children still attend schools for students with moderate intellectual disability more often than other children. The health condition of Romanies from ghettos is worse than that of the rest of the population, the report writes.

Czech authorities have no official statistical data on Romanies. There is opposition to the collecting of such data and Romanies move house very often. Some families changed their residence even four times a year, however, they mostly moved within one region.

In 2016, the Czech state spent 69 million crowns on the integration of Romanies into society. Financial support for Romany integration has been increasing since 2013, but it is lower than it was before the global financial crisis that led to budget cuts.

($1=23.401 crowns)

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