Just how many Roma are there?

Published on 20 October 2011 at 12:55

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"Will we ever know the exact number of Roma in Romania?" That’s the question posed by conservative Romanian daily Jurnalul National. "In the census the Roma will be counted," runs a headline in the paper. That’s one of the aims of the census which begins on October 20, the first to be carried out in Romania since the fall of communism in 1989 to comply with European rules. The actual size of the Roma community, a question posed both in Romania and within the EU, is one of the major issues of the census, which will end on October 31. According to Romani Criss, a non-governmental organisation that informed the Roma about the census – notably by distributing badges that said "Being a Rom is Fantastic" – there are some 2.5 million Roma. Romanian authorities, however, reckon they are no more than 500,000. "Between the advantages of being truthful – more European funds; more scholarships – and the fear of being stigmatised" and of paying greater taxes, the paper says, the Roma find themselves on the horns of a dilemma.

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