Human Rights Perspectives: Roma in an Expanding Europe Union – UK Perspectives
‘Roma are the largest pan-European minority, with a significant presence in every major European state’ (Oakley 2005, pp.2) existing at ‘a level of destitution almost indescribable’ (Refugee Council 1999, pp.37) and yet until recently they have been largely ignored by European institutions and the international community.
This dissertation examines the living conditions of Central and Eastern European (CEE) Roma in their home countries, the push factors driving them to migrate to the West, their place within European policy, in particular regarding European Union (EU) accession, and how they have been received in Britain. Drawing on data gathered from interviews carried out with professionals working with Roma (UK) and also from a focus group session carried out with Romanian Roma girls, the experiences of Roma with regards to: discrimination in education and employment; inequality in health, housing and social services; institutional racism and racist attacks; policy; and life in the UK are explored, with particular emphasis placed on the impact on Roma of the accession of CEE countries to the EU. The difficulties associated with researching a hidden population with a long history of persecution are also examined. The need to reassess immigration and asylum policy as well as considerations for the future are discussed and the research concludes that while little seems to have changed with accession for those who remain in CEE, living conditions have improved for Roma who have made it to the UK.
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