MINELRES: Romania: Government Strategy lags behind while Roma capacity is underused

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Tue Oct 5 13:27:44 2004

Original sender: Alphia Abdikeeva <AAbdikeeva@osi.hu> 

Report available online in Romanian and in English at www.eumap.org and
www.romacenter.ro.  For further information:  Florin Moisa,
info@romacenter.osf.ro, tel. + 40 722 948 163  and Miriam Anati,
manati@osieurope.org, tel + 36 30 274 8533 

Government Strategy lags behind while Roma capacity is underused

Bucharest, 27 September 2004 Ė The Romanian governmentís Strategy for
Roma is doing too little to address discrimination and social exclusion
experienced by Roma communities throughout Romania. 

Three years after its adoption, implementation of the Strategy also
continues to ignore or exclude the knowledge, skills, and experience
that Roma groups could provide. These are among the findings of
Monitoring the Local Implementation of the Romanian Government Strategy
for Roma, the first report prepared by non-governmental organisations to
monitor the Strategy at the local level.

"This report illustrates the importance of the active involvement of
Roma in decisions affecting their communities," said Florin Moisa,
executive president of the Resource Center for Roma Communities (RCRC).
"It also provides an example of how monitoring can be effectively
carried out at the community level, offering assistance to local,
national and international policymakers."

Roma organisations and activists are focusing on the Strategy because it
is a key component of the government's efforts to improve the situation
of Roma. Romania has the largest Roma population in Europe, unofficially
estimated at 2.5 million. 

Moisa was joined in presenting the report by representatives from the
two other organisations that initiated the monitoring effort, Katy
Negrin of the Open Society Institute's EU Monitoring and Advocacy
Program (EUMAP), and Iulius Rostas from the Open Society Institute's
Roma Participation Program (RPP). Marcel Costache from Eurodrom Craiova,
a Roma group in Dolj County, described the monitoring process from the
perspective of a local monitor. 

Roma activists engaged by the RCRC conducted local monitoring in five
Romanian counties: Cluj, Iasi, Timis, Dolj, and Braila. The objectives
were to produce an independent monitoring report on the Strategy and
develop public policy monitoring capacity among young Roma activists.
Monitors today called upon Roma organisations to continue monitoring the
implementation of the Strategy and also to follow up on findings with
the appropriate authorities.

According to the monitoring results, the government must make much
stronger efforts to address major issues impacting Romaniaís Roma
population such as racially motivated violence, discrimination, unequal
access to quality education, to employment and to health care, and
inadequate housing conditions.

The report does note that progress has been made in a number of
small-scale initiatives, mostly funded through the EUís Phare programme,
that have helped some Roma to acquire identity papers, offered family
planning advice, increased access to schools, and provided job training.
As the only governmental contribution for Strategy implementation to
date has been through such EU co-funding, more resources should be
directed towards systematic changes in policies and programmes,
underpinned by clear political will.

Administrative structures called for in the Strategy such as County
Offices for Roma, local expert advisors, and joint working groups have
been established. Yet monitoring revealed that most of these structures
lack the resources and authority to conduct any kind of meaningful local
activities. Poor coordination among local bodies also hinders effective
action at this level.

A concern identified by the report is the apparent politicisation in
selecting staff for the County Offices for Roma. So far, only the
nationally dominant Roma Social Democrat Party has been consulted,
although many other active NGOs representing Roma interests do exist. 

A lack of Roma participation in decision-making and project
implementation is raised in several sections of the report. The reportís
recommendations call upon local authorities to increase the number of
Roma working in local institutions for Roma issues and draw upon
Romaniaís substantial pool of qualified and experienced Roma activists.
The report urges the Romanian government to consult with a broad
spectrum of Roma civil society representatives in implementing and
elaborating the Strategy and other government initiatives such as the
current National Action Plan for the Decade of Roma Inclusion. The
recommendations also urge international donors to enhance opportunities
for Roma to participate directly in all phases of planning and
implementing projects intended to benefit their communities.

This report is a joint project of: 

The Resource Center for Roma Communities (Cluj), www.romacenter.ro 
EUMAP, the EU Monitoring and Advocacy Program (OSI, Budapest),
RPP, the Roma Participation Program (OSI, Budapest),
It is a follow up to OSI-EUMAPís November 2002 Monitoring the EU
Accession Process: Minority Protection in Romania report (available at