Roma people in Croatia have a poor education and social status, they are mostly unemployed and live in poor conditions, showed the results of a survey on the inclusion of Roma people in Croatian society, presented on Wednesday.
The survey, conducted by Ecorys Hrvatska d.o.o. and the Centre for Peace Studies NGO, also showed that about 98 percent Roma people are Croatian citizens and usually record an above-average (60 percent) turnout at elections.
The head of the research team, Suzana Kunac, said that this was one of the largest surveys about the Roma in Europe and that it was an "expression of Roma experiences."
A part of the survey, encompassing 1,550 households and 4,750 people, as well as interviews with key figures in the Roma community, has been published as a scientifically reviewed book in the Croatian, English and Roma languages.
The research estimates that about 22,500 Roma live in 15 counties in Croatia. The last population census, from 2011, recorded slightly less than 17,000 Roma.
Most Roma, 6,368, live in Medjimurje County, followed by 3,299 in Zagreb, and 2,190 in Sisak-Moslavina County.
Their level of education is poor, seeing that according to education qualifications only 28 percent finish elementary school, 15 percent complete secondary education and less than 0.5 percent finish university.
About 44 percent of Roma are unemployed and only 12 percent have full-time jobs.
As many as 41 percent have never worked and of those that have worked, 32 percent have simple jobs.
Most of them believe that the reason for the low level of employability is the low level of education and qualifications, but also discrimination.
Almost the entire Roma population (92 percent) is at the risk of poverty and relies on social welfare.
About 54 percent are on welfare benefits and one-third are quite dissatisfied with the way social welfare staff treat them.
The survey is part of a project by the Office for Human Rights and National Minority Rights.
Roma minority MP Veljko Kajtazi commended the survey and said that it would be of great assistance in regulating the status of the Roma community in Croatia, as well as informing the public of obligations of those implementing the Roma national strategy.