WHO and partners increase focus on Roma population in Ukraine

The crisis situation in Ukraine resulted in additional burden on the Roma population. Since the crises started, 10,000 Roma people are estimated to have fled from their residences in the Eastern part of the country. These people have joined the large community of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Ukraine and are among IDPs' most vulnerable groups. However, many are not even recognized officially as citizens of Ukraine.  

The WHO country office in Ukraine conducted a preparatory survey among Roma IDPs to assess their health needs and concluded that tailored action is needed to address their specific conditions and improve their health status.

The survey

WHO/Europe and International Charitable Organization "Roma Women Fund Chiricli" conducted the survey in 3 regions - Kharkiv, Lugansk and Odessa - in cooperation with the Roma Health Mediators and local nongovernmental organizations. 

In total 120 women and men were interviewed ranging from 20 to 67 years of age. The vast majority of them had lost their personal documents or had never had any. 90 out of 120 reported hostile experiences with the local authorities and local population.

The conclusions

The survey's results strongly indicate the need to further increase the focus on Roma IDPs. As they lack personal documents, they do not have access to health care services. This places the sick, the elderly, the children, the mothers, the pregnant, the injured and those who need medical attention, in an extreme fragile situation. 

There is a need to establish effective co-ordination mechanisms supported by legislation and in line with international standards. Particular attention should be paid to decrease discrimination against the Roma population.  

Next steps 

WHO/Europe is preparing the first health and nutrition survey among Roma IDPs in Ukraine. The same survey will also be implemented among other vulnerable and marginalized groups. Collected data will be analyzed to understand the situation and act upon it, including by raising awareness and accelerating the provision of targeted support to those in need.