Racist violence in Europe largely unreported

23rd April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The first ever EU-wide survey on immigrant and ethnic minority groups' experiences of discrimination and racist crime uncovered ‘a sense of resignation’ on the issue.

Brussels -- Discrimination and racially motivated violence are far more widespread than official statistics suggest in Europe, with the Roma and Africans bearing the brunt, a new EU study charged Wednesday.

The first ever EU-wide survey on immigrant and ethnic minority groups' experiences of discrimination and racist crime, carried out by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), uncovered "a sense of resignation among ethnic minorities and immigrants" on the issue.

They "appear to lack confidence in mechanisms to protect victims," the report's authors say.

"The survey reveals how large the 'dark figure' of racist crime and discrimination really is in the EU. Official racism figures only show the tip of the iceberg," warned FRA director Morten Kjaerum.

Of those minorities polled throughout the 27 EU nations, over a third, 37 percent, said they had personally experienced discrimination in the past year, with 12 percent saying they were the victims of a racist crime.

However, the report says, 80 percent of these did not report the incident to the police, leaving official crime statistics woefully inadequate.

The Roma gypsies reported the highest levels of discrimination, with one in two respondents saying they were the victims of discrimination in the last 12 months.

Sub-Saharan Africans were also among the worst affected, with 41 percent saying they had been discriminated against, followed by North Africans at 36 percent.

The report's authors did not wish to offer figures on which European nations were the worst for discrimination.

The European Commission voiced concern that the results show that "discrimination, racism and xenophobia are still persistent phenomena in the EU, that they affect the lives of members of ethnic minorities in the EU and of immigrants, and that they can hamper their integration into our societies."

The results of the survey "reaffirm the need for the European Union and its member states ... to strengthen their common fight against discrimination, racism and xenophobia," the EU's executive arm added.

EU Justice and Freedom Commissioner Jacques Barrot also raised concerns over the reports findings that racism was seen in everyday matters such as accessing to the labour market, housing, education, opening a bank account or obtaining a loan.

Said Barrot: "There is no doubt that such experiences can negatively affect the integration process of immigrants, a process vital to ensure the social cohesion of our societies".


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