While there is no accurate data on the number of Roma with disabilities, a 2016 study estimates that 15% of the Roma population are persons with disabilities, meaning that there would be more than 1.6 million Roma with disabilities in the EU and EU enlargement countries (Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey).
Roma with disabilities experience even greater isolation, less access to inclusive education and more severe poverty.
During COVID-19, their situation has been even more critical. A report published by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in September 2020 highlights a multitude of issues including discriminatory lockdown measures targeting Roma communities, lack of access to education (due to lack of electricity, internet, and IT equipment), employment support measures excluding informal and seasonal workers, lack of adequate access to housing, food, and other basic needs, and poor access to healthcare services. Roma with disabilities seem to not have been considered at all in the response to the pandemic.
In September 2020, the European Commission adopted a new EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation, that includes Roma with disabilities.
On this International Romani Day, we reiterate the obligations of the European Union and its Member States to protect the rights of all persons with disabilities, with specific measures to target the ones most disadvantaged, including Roma people with disabilities.
- EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation
- Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Roma and how to be prepared for the next crisis, ERGO Network
Picture credit: EU Commission