[editar plantilla]

The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights alerts about the situation of the Roma population and asks for an emergency response [editar]

Press release from the Fundación Secretariado Gitano after a two-week visit to our country


The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights alerts about the situation of the Roma population and asks for an emergency response
  • During his two-week visit to our country, the Special Rapporteur wanted to know firsthand how extreme poverty affects the Roma population. According to studies, 46% of Roma families live in extreme poverty.
  • On February 7, he presented at a press conference the preliminary report of the visit. The final report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June.
  • The Fundación Secretariado Gitano accompanied the Rapporteur in the visits of the Polígono Sur (Sevilla) and Cañada Real (Madrid), wa want to express our specially thanks for his strong words about the invisible reality of extreme poverty and exclusion.

The Fundación Secretariado Gitano thanked the UN Rapporteur for his strong words about the situation of the Roma population in Spain at the press conference after his two-week visit. Some statements that are complemented by the press release and the preliminary report, released on the same day, and it contain clear references to the serious social situation of the Roma population.

Both in his general comments on the situation of poverty in Spain and in the specific ones on the Roma population, there is no doubt about the strong conclusions of the Rapporteur.

"Spain is completely failing on the solution for people living in poverty, whose situation is now among the worst in the European Union."

"The word I have heard most often in the last two weeks is abandoned."

"Spain is depriving the poor people of basic rights, even while its companies recover from the economic crisis."

"Spain has one of the highest child poverty rates in Europe, and this reality does not correspond to the fact that it is the fourth economy of the European Union."

Not forgetting direct messages to the new government such as:

"With its reception of social rights and fiscal justice, and its prioritization of the most vulnerable, we applaud and support the message of the new government, but it is necessary that its actions be up to that rhetoric."

As for references to the Roma population, these are included both in the press release, as in the preliminary report or in the responses themselves to journalists at the press conference.

Thus, in the press release, it is stated verbatim:

"Certain groups are particularly forgotten by policy makers, suffer the impact of structural discrimination and experience disproportionately high poverty rates. Spain has one of the largest Roma communities in the EU, almost half of whom live in the extreme poverty".

For its part, the Preliminary Report (whose English version was released on Friday) includes a specific section on the Roma population, using data offered by the Fundación Secretariado Gitano [1], with contents such as these:

“More than 80 percent of the Roma population faces poverty or social exclusion and 46 percent are extremely poor, with a monthly income of less than 310 euros. The child poverty rate is 89 percent and unemployment is 52 percent. Roma women suffer a clear disadvantage in all areas, with an employment rate that only reaches 16 percent. And Roma children attend, at high rates, schools, with only 17 percent of the population over 16 who complete secondary or higher education. ”

“I visited two Roma communities, in Polígono Sur in Andalusia and Cañada Real just outside Madrid. Although these are extreme examples, not representative of the conditions of most of the Roma in Spain, I was surprised at the extent to which the responsible governments seem to have abandoned the people who live there. Those with whom I spoke were involved in a losing battle to ensure basic forms of support or essential government services. ”

“In Cañada Real I met people who lived without hospitals, employment centers, school or even legal electric service, on an unpaved road, directly adjacent to incinerators, in an area considered dangerous for human health.”

“Government recognize that the situation for many Roma people is serious, but I was struck by the lack of urgency and resignation with which they accepted that entire parts of the population have been relegated to a third-class state without access to the rights to which they are entitled. After years of plans and benchmarks, Roma's poverty indicators are at deplorable levels, there is a real need for an emergency response. Some officials with whom I spoke only seemed concerned about having marked certain action boxes, instead of achieving tangible results. ”

But in addition, the Rapporteur's Report denounces school segregation, which clearly affects Roma students:


[1]Comparative study on the situation of the Roma population in Spain in relation to employment and poverty, FSG, 2019.

Press release

In turn, to the questions of the journalists in the press conference on February 7 (with an important presence of foreign correspondents), Philip Alston made other forceful and emotional statements about the situation of the Roma population and other vulnerable groups.

Thus, to the question of a journalist, "What do you attribute the situation of the Roma community in Spain?" The Rapporteur compared the situation with that of his country of origin (Australia) with regard to aboriginal communities:

“Roma in this country fit into this kind of pattern. People convince themselves that Roma are different. They have another brain, they are different people, they are not like us, they do not aspire to the same for their children, they do not want education, they do not want decent housing and in any case they cannot be helped. None of this is true, of course, but it is part of that myth that always revolves around the most despised group. ”

Then, he pointed to the public authorities as responsible for this situation.

“I am very disappointed that many of the government representatives I spoke with seem to speak of this as if it were something too formal. Yes, we have to do something, we do have to help, we do have a complaint system, we have a record, we have a strategic plan… ”but then when I say, well, what about the results? the impact? (...)

“Although the Roma represent a small percentage of the population in Spain, governments have to realize that this does not help Spain. Nor does it help the perception of Spain. They can't keep allowing it.

Reseña, del programa de radio Gitanos, de la visita del Relator especial de Derechos Humanos de la ONU a La Cañada (Madrid) y el barrio de las Tres Mil Viviendas (Sevilla)