Situation for Macedonia's Roma population worrying: report
Macedonia's Roma population suffers from discrimination and their living conditions are "worrying", Europe's anti-racism agency warned Tuesday.
"Roma face difficulties with education, employment and access to health care," the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance said in a report. "Roma women are subject to multiple discrimination and there is a high number of Roma children in the streets who do not receive adequate care."
The commission, which is part of the Council of Europe, urged Macedonia to end the practice of sending Roma children to schools for the mentally challenged, and instead integrate them into regular schools.
The report said segregation of ethnic minorities remained common, and teaching in languages other than Macedonian was not up to scratch.
"At the same time, the country continues to be divided along ethnic lines. Statements by politicians and opinion leaders do not assist reconciliation," the report said, adding that not enough funds were available to improve the situation for minorities.
The ECRI report found positives, such as the decision to grant citizenship to a number of ethnic minority people who were long-term residents in the country.
"Changes to the Criminal Code have been a significant step towards consolidating the legal framework to combat racism. Judges and prosecutors now receive compulsory initial training in this connection," the report said.
The ECRI monitors problems of racism and discrimination in all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.
© 2010 AFP