The failed Census could have been usefull
The failed Census from October this year could have been especially successful for Roma people in Macedonia, if it finished. That’s what Ašmet Elezovski, president of the National Roma Centrum thinks about the Census that was interrupted only a few days before its completion. The reason, as he says, is simple – this year as never before Rome people were ready for statistical counting.
– Even when the Census was prolonged form April to October a space was left to work more with Roma people and show them the significance of participating in it. I wouldn’t like to talk about the mechanism, methodology and the approach made by the institutions, but we have worked very actively on field, we have visited many places and together with two other organizations – Insok and Lil we have very organized visited Roma neighbourhoods and at the same time spread the message about the significance of the Census among the non- Roma population as well, says Elezovski.
According to him the Census would have been successful for Roma people if it finished.
– Our data shows that we had many encouraged people. We consider that there would have been greater percentage of Roma people if not by ten than at least by four to five percent more than the actual number of Roma people in the country, he informs.
The work on field has shown a lot of revolt among citizens as well, before all because of poverty and unemployment. Several seasonal problems appeared. One of them was the grape-harvest in the Tikveš area, where a lot of people abided under the open sky in order not to lose the possibility for job and to earn for living. For them the Census was a great problem because they couldn’t leave their job.
-I think that Macedonia loses by not finishing the Census. A lot of money were invested. And Roma people also lost, because this time they were well motivated and encouraged. The Census was also very important for the inclusion of Roma people in accomplishing national strategy, in implementing the Action plans of the decade, and before all in the preparing for inclusion and participating in the European strategy for Roma people. Normally, in order for that to be well done and to get financial means so that the Roma people could benefit from the ‘strong’ strategies, the first thing that is needed is to get to know the number of Roma people, reckons Elezovski.
According to him, the Census was supposed to reveal information which would have justified or denied the claims that more than 98% of the Roma people are social cases, or that 97% of them are unemployed.
– It is being spoken that there are 500 thousand Roma people in Macedonia. For Europe, the problem with asylum seekers is often identified as the problem with Roma people, because as they say most of the asylum seekers are Roma. There is no official data, but we Roma people are 500 thousand. But if most of the asylum seekers in Europe are Roma, if we are present in Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, Austria and according to the numbers that are being mentioned it turns out that in Macedonia there are no Roma people left. That’s why the Census is a very important tool for comparison and denying the manipulations. If the Census is going to be organized next year, it would be much more difficult, there won’t be confidence, people would think that they are part of someone’s game again, he says.
Elezovski informs that the National Roma Centrum was included in the Census through a project for motivating and informing Roma people.