current situation of the Roma minority in Albania:
Roma community lives in Albania alongside the other minorities
and it is considered a linguistic minority. This community
of people settled in Albania, as it did in many countries
of Europe, during the period ranging from the XIII century
until the XV one.
Even though they established a peaceful attitude while settling
in Albania more than 600 years ago, they still lack a spirit
of normal coexistence with their co-natives. This is due
to the indifferent approach concerning their situation,
prejudices and discrimination towards Roma people. They
feel discriminated. This discrimination is not direct, but
it has lead to the self- isolation of Roma people.
150 thousand Roma inhabitants live in Albania. Anyhow, there
are no accurate records in this regard. The Roma population
is basically settled in Tirana, Elbasan, Durrës, Berat,
Fier, Korcë, Vlorë, Fush Kruja, Gjirokastër
Regarding their current situation in Albania, the indexes
of the level of poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and trafficking
Actually, I do not intend to exaggerate this bitter reality.
I would simply give a clear vision of the situation of this
minority in Albania.
low educational level is the most serious problem, impeding
the integration of this community towards the majority society.
Most of Roma children are illiterate. Some of the factors
influencing this situation are the linguistic difficulties
they encounter at the first grade of elementary school,
the poverty in their families, the long distance dwellings
from school and sometimes the wrong mentality of their parents.
When asked about the discrimination or maltreatment of their
children at school, the Roma mothers stated that their children
are actually discriminated, but not in a direct manner.
The teachers regard them as children with no future perspectives
and they often treat those children with indifference or
contempt, because of their poor clothes, the lack of finances
to follow activities with other school peers or to buy books,
school items and so on.
If Roma children have no possibility to complete a certain
educational level, it means that their future is in danger.
When adults, the children with no education are offered
to do ordinary jobs, such as cleaning streets at night or
during the day, collecting garbage or cans and finally,
using their oldest profession: begging.
are only two Roma students in Albania.
The figure of unemployed Roma in Albania is very high and
that is not characteristic only for Roma. During the period
of the socialist regime, most of Roma people were employed
by various public enterprises and agricultural cooperatives,
where their job was guaranteed. During the first years of
the democracy, ranging from 1991 to 1993, the Roma who were
settled in villages, profited agricultural land, in accordance
with the law No 7501, where as the Roma who used to live
in city had no income at all. Nowadays, some of them receive
a minimum social welfare; some others deal with the trade
of used clothes or do ordinary jobs, in order to earn a
the Roma community of Fushë Kruja live about 700 Roma
and their situation is miserable. The trade of used clothes
and begging in the streets of the town are the two most
popular professions. Many women are obliged to sell their
own blood, in order to provide some food for their children,
who do not go to school, because of poverty (anyhow, that
does not mean much hope for their future) etc. That is not
the only community living in such an extreme poverty.
of the traditional professions of Roma people are musicians,
handicraft workers (carving willow sticks. They also deal
with, trade and agriculture. Most of them have created various
musical bands and their fame has become internationally
prominent. Even in the area of trade, there are many successful
Roma businessmen, who have extended their activity in various
counties of Albania. Most of Roma people who live in village,
deal with farming and agriculture, in spite of their meager
financial opportunities to plow the land and breed cattle.
Dark, beautiful young women, with black eyes, black long
hair, dressed in multicolored clothes, wearing golden rings
and earrings stir the attention and curiosity of the pedestrians.
Most often, they have a mole right in the middle of their
foreheads. Some of them mark the mole as a sign of their
engagement status and some others use it merely as an ornament.
The Roma woman is a victim of the deep patriarchal mentality
dating back to the Albanian past. This mentality leads to
the low esteem towards them in daily life and in society.
That is not all. The Roma women are twice discriminated
as they are victims of family violence, maltreated by their
husbands or fathers. On the other hand, they are the most
discriminated group of the society.
serious problem is the lack of self- esteem, the lack of
self- awareness with respect to their own positive values,
the lack of confidence in the potentials and the opportunities
they have while working out various problems, as they are
supposed to be the protectors and conveyers of Roma culture
and traditions, etc.
In comparison to the other ethnical groups and the Albanian
majority society, Roma women rank the youngest to get married.
Even Roma parents are often aware of the danger imposed
by the marriage at a young age. However, customs and traditions
are stronger than fear. The marriage before 18 years old,
brings numerous problems for the health of those young women
and these new families and numerous children born out of
these marital bonds, are too fragile and prone to divorce.
general, Roma have many children and they encounter a lot
of difficulties to raise them. Being not registered in the
Registrar Office, these children do not profit from the
obligatory vaccination or other medical facilities. The
involvement of Roma women in informing programs on family
planning, training seminars dealing with the reproduction
health and care for children is now a necessary issue.
families encounter many difficulties in their social life.
The scarce employment opportunities and the very low salaries
force Roma people to immigrate in the neighboring countries,
in order to have a better life. The immigration is usually
illegal and the movement is often clandestine.
The immigration encourages the divorce, the deterioration
of traditions and culture, the prostitution of Roma females,
the trafficking of Roma children and the abuse of their
people do not understand the meaning of the word “trafficking”
although they may be involved in it, directly or indirectly.
Those mothers, who send their children abroad to work (to
sing in the streets or beg) think that they are offering
to their children a good lifestyle. The divorced women who
become prey of criminal networks and various families that
force their children to work with the status of non-official
immigrants, think that is the only opportunity to survive.
prostitution and trafficking lead to a higher level of poverty,
even though they are used as instruments to fight poverty
(when other mechanisms are not available or do not meet
the basic needs of the family). Thus, the economic conditions
stimulate these negative phenomena and in reality, only
the victims of trafficking understand its true consequences.
There is an obvious lack of knowledge concerning the registration,
particularly when it comes to the documents needed by law
for registration, ownership, employment, movement within
the country, legal immigration, heritage, education, prisons
of juvenile delinquents etc.
the years ’60 most of Roma people led a nomad life,
but after that period, they began to settle in permanent
dwellings. Most of Roma people have provided comfortable
and safe houses for their families, but some communities
live in plastic or board barracks, where the electricity,
potable water and other minimum living conditions are not
are Albanians just like the rest of the population. Why
does nobody want to help us or at least listen to us...?”-
a Roma mother from the community of Lana (Tirana) asked
in tears. Following the order of the Municipality to clear
the shore of Lana river from all illegal constructions,
the police forklifts broke down her house (a plastic barrack).
That was a good example to show that even the members of
the community have to apply the tasks just like every other
Anyhow, is there anybody to think about their shelter? Is
there any solution for almost 100 families that have remained
in the middle of the street? Does someone deign to listen
to the cries of the children saying they are out there,
in open air? Don’t they deserve even the minimum attention
by Governmental, Central or Local Authorities?
Certain people think that Roma like to sleep outdoors, they
don’t prefer to have their own houses etc.
Imagine you go to sleep without locking your main door...
Would you fall asleep? Would you feel safe?
Imagine you have only river water to drink, to wash
clothes and to wash yourselves...not simply for a week
or a month, but for running years.
Imagine you do not have aspirins for your headache,
the drugstore is too far and actually you don’t
have enough money to buy them...
Imagine you are in the middle of a storm and you have
no possibilities to protect your barefoot children from
frost and rain...
to the facts we have observed and if you had the chance
to see what we have concluded from our observations, then
you would agree with us that these forgotten people need
a strong supporting hand from the members of this community,
the majority society and the Central and Local Government.
Roma youngsters constitute the most marginalized group in
our country. Raised under very difficult socioeconomic conditions
and the striking pressure of the society, it was very hard
for them to integrate into the social and cultural life
of the country. Their involvement in professional courses,
cultural activities and various training seminars would
influence the improvement of their situation.
we do not do something today, tomorrow will continue to
be gloomy. Now it is the right moment to do something and
help those who will represent a young generation in the
President of the Union of Albanian Roma “Amaro Drom”
Mr. Skënder Veliu says: “The Albanian Roma are
excluded from the political life. At national level, there
are no Roma representatives in the governmental structures,
where as in the local structures there are very few representatives.
This fact leads to the inability of Roma to appeal their
needs to the central or local governmental structures. Although
various efforts have been made to send representatives in
the Albanian Parliament, such a thing did not happen, because
of the representation in various political parties.
are no newspapers, magazines or TV stations in Roma language
to make their problems public and serve as sensibilization
instruments. Various publications have been made, basically
in Albanian and English language, but a relevant radio or
TV station would promote a broader participation of Roma
people in social, cultural and political life of the country.”
There are rare cases of criminality within this community,
so this phenomenon is not dominant. In fact, conflicts within
the community are evident, but they can be settled within
the community, by means of reconciliation. The Police Department
in Tirana states that the rate of criminality within Roma
community is not to be taken into consideration. We can’t
say that Roma people are completely innocent and the others
accuse them unfairly. Just like every other people, there
are criminals and thieves in this community, but they do
not aim at huge profits. They simply strive to survive.
Have you seen rich people stealing or begging?
Only by the end of the XVIII century, scholars provided
evidence that the origin of Roma language is from the Indian
language. Nowadays, some similar languages to Roma one are
the languages spoken in India, Nepal, Bengal etc.
Roma language has suffered numerous changes, because of
the movements of Roma. In the majority of cases, Roma people
were forced not to speak their own language, because of
persecutions and violence exercised to them, so, some Roma
groups in the world have lost their language, where as some
others have lost it partially, inserting words from the
vocabulary of the people with which they coexisted.
The word ROMA is translated into Albanian as man or person.
That is a term with which the Roma identify themselves.
All other non-Roma people are called in Roma language GAXHENJ
(GAXHI-singular). Various countries have used different
terms for Roma, such as bohemians, cigan, gabel, arixhi,
people speak Roma language; however, that language is becoming
extinct, because of several reasons:
The adjustment of Roma to the native population;
Many families avoid to speak their own language, because
This language is transmitted orally and not in a written
Albanian Roma Union “Amaro Drom”