Roma community still neglected, president says
Ljubljana, 11 April - President Nataša Pirc Musar said after a consultation on the Roma on Tuesday that this community is still neglected and cannot access basic human rights such as potable water, education, social care and healthcare. Representatives of the Roma community were critical that the same discussion has been going on for 30 years.
The consultation, organised by the President at the occasion of International Romani day, celebrated on 8 April, brought together members of the Roma Association and councillors from municipalities where Roma have the right to a representative in the municipal council.
Pirc Musar was pleased that the government founded a special task force to tackle Roma issues, led by former Defence Minister Anton Grizold. The task force will first address the most problematic issues in an action plan and then work on systemic solutions, the president said.
Among the most pressing issues for the Roma community is limited access to drinking water, which is a basic human need, said the president. Because of poor sanitation infrastructure children cannot wash themselves properly and are bullied in school as a result, she noted.
The president was surprised to hear that medical staff and social workers no longer visit Roma settlements, which means that the community does not benefit from preventive awareness programmes on, for example, contraception and the correct use of medication. That is something that modern democracy should not permit, she said.
Roma Association president Jožek Horvat Muc noted that a lot has been done to benefit Roma settlements in areas where political will existed but neither money nor legislation helped where there was none. Living conditions in some settlements remain unacceptable due to unregulated ownership arrangements, zoning acts and subdivisions.
The Roma that wish to improve their living conditions by purchasing a house and integrating in some areas find the majority population reluctant to accept them as neighbours, said Horvat Muc.
According to Horvat Muc, the key problems of the Roma community are the lack of access to potable water, poor living conditions and healthcare. Things are changing for the worse in education, he noted.
Both Horvat and Grizold noted that the Slovenian society has been facing the same issues for 30 years without real progress. Horvat believes that all ineffective measures should be abandoned and new ones should be adopted instead.