OSCE: Better census data needed for Roma minority
Apr 9, 2011, 8:51 GMT
Vienna - Europe's Roma could be empowered if countries collected better demographic data, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Friday on the occasion of International Roma Day.
With an estimated 11 million people, Roma are Europe's largest minority. Its members have been persecuted throughout history and are still socially and economically disadvantaged in many countries.
Governments cannot develop successful integration strategies without basic information on how many Roma live in which locations, said Andrzej Mirga, the OSCE's top official dealing with Roma issues from Warsaw.
More than 20 of the OSCE's 56 member nations are holding a census this year, but there are countries where people do not have the option to identify themselves as Roma.
'Every census is an excellent opportunity both for the authorities and the Roma themselves to obtain a more accurate picture of the size of this population and extent of the challenges they face,' Mirga said in a statement.
Roma themselves should not shy away from declaring their ethnicity, but should view the collection of demographic data as a tool that could help them claim their rights, he said.
The European Commission called on European Union member states on Tuesday to draw up national strategies by the end of the year to put an end to 'unacceptable' discrimination against this ethnic group.