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EU report: Ethnic Discrimination Widespread in Europe

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The largest survey to date of ethnic minorities living in Europe has found that the majority experience racism and discrimination on a day-to-day basis, with Roma and Africans feeling especially vulnerable. The survey of 23,500 people revealed that discrimination, harassment and racially motivated violence were far more widespread than recorded in official statistics. “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,” agency director Morten Kjaerum said. The report by the EU’s agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) said that around 55 percent of minority residents and migrants felt ethnically inspired bias was widespread. But of the 12 percent who reported witnessing a racist crime in the past 12 months, 80 percent did not go to the authorities about it, reflecting the belief that little could be done to tackle the problem, Kjaerum said.

Africans, Roma targeted: The survey results confirmed that an overwhelming majority of Roma and Africans feel they face acute discrimination in nearly all facets of daily life in the EU. Around 90 percent of North Africans in Italy and France reported discrimination, while around 85 percent of Roma living in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Greece said they had been treated with prejudice because of their ethnicity. In Germany, just over half of all Turkish residents surveyed said discrimination based on ethnicity was widespread here.

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Roma were the ethnic group most suffering from discrimination. Minorities reported racially-motivated obstacles when looking for work or a home to rent or buy, when trying to open a bank account or get a loan, when dealing with healthcare, social services or school officials. They also experienced discrimination when entering cafes, restaurants and shops.

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 on 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%, said they had personally experienced discrimination in the past year, with 12% saying they were the victim of a racist crime. However, the report says, 80% of these did not report the incident to the police, leaving official crime statistics woefully inadequate.

Highest among gypsies
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% saying they had been discriminated against, followed by North Africans at 36%. 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 access to the labour market, housing, education, opening a bank account or obtaining a loan. “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”.

Racist crime rising in Europe
Brussels – Racist crime is on the rise across Europe, the head of the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights announced in Brussels on Tuesday. There was a worrying trend of an increase in racist crimes between 2000 and 2006, and 2007 showed a similar picture, Anastasia Crickley, the agency’s chairperson, said as she presented her organisation’s annual report. Until 2006, the number of reported cases of racist offences rose in Austria, Britain, Finland, France, Denmark, Germany, Ireland and Slovakia. There was a slight decrease in the Czech Republic, Poland and Sweden in the 2000 to 2006 period. The report covered 11 of the 27 EU member states that provide relevant data to the Vienna-based agency.

Increasing awareness

The overall trend could be explained with an increasing awareness of crimes motivated by racism, Crickley said. But at the same time, she called on the European Commission to pay greater attention to member states’ implementation of the EU Racial Equality Directive. “It is obvious that the member states are applying the legislation quite unevenly,” she said. Positive examples cited in the report were France, which managed to raise public awareness of racism, and Britain, where a high number of punishments for racist discrimination were passed in 2006 and 2007.

The EU Fundamental Rights Agency was founded in March 2007. It collects data on human rights, advises EU members and institutions and aims to raise public awareness on complying with these rights. – Sapa-dpa

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