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Roma Realities


Putting the Plight of Roma at the Forefront

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the World Bank are pleased to present this unique Roma Realities catalog which portrays the lives of Roma communities in Southern Europe, authored by the Swiss photographer Yves Leresche, with photos taken between 1990 and 2008 in Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania. The photo collection illustrates the lives of Roma communities by evoking the themes of family and traditional ways of living, juxtaposed against the images symbolizing the marginalization of Roma, their joblessness, social exclusion, low health standards, but also coping strategies for survival and Roma aspirations for inclusion into mainstream societies.


Slideshow: Roma Realities Decade 2005-2015

Roma Realities Decade 2005-2015




Roma Realities Decade 2005-2015

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, marked by the seminal transition of Central and Eastern European economies into market economies, and five years after their accession to the European Union, the Roma, Europe's largest minority with an estimated 6 to 9 million of people, still remain one of the largest disadvantaged and marginalized ethnic groups. Roma still lag behind the economic, political, and social developments of 21st century Europe.

We at the World Bank believe that putting the plight of Roma at the forefront of Europe's social inclusion agenda and ensuring that they enjoy equal social and economic rights is not only a moral obligation but also an economic necessity for the countries concerned. Not least in view of the substantial demographic decline expected for the coming decades, countries in Central and Southeast Europe cannot afford the exclusion from productive employment of millions of their citizens.

The Decade of Roma Inclusion launched in 2005 and actively supported by efforts and tangible solutions offered by international development organizations, such as the World Bank, the Open Society Institute, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, highlights the pressing need to take action on Roma inclusion into European society. Since 2005, some progress has been made, as evidenced by the DecadeWatch assessment of young Roma activists, yet more has to be done until we can truly say that the lives of Roma across Europe have been improved and their rights equaled with those enjoyed by a larger society. It is the obligation of the national governments and civil society, in collaboration with the international community, to ensure that not a singe Roma live is left behind.

Art is said to have the ability to rise beyond social stigma and the potential to break social, political, and economic boundaries—both, visible, perceptible, and unseen. Through these photographs, we hope to impact the consciousness of every single citizen of Europe by drawing attention to the plight of Roma and raising awareness of their situation. Let the images of Roma realities speak for themselves!

Credits: Roma Realities Decade 2005-2015