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International Roma Day: Roma gypsies continue to face wide-ranging discrimination
On the eve of commemorating the International Roma Day (IRD), April 8, 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry, in a statement, said: 'We mark the day by celebrating the rich Romani culture and the diverse contributions of Roma to our societies. On this day, we should reflect on the obstacles that continue to prevent millions of Roma from realizing their potential.'

The IRD, officially declared in 1990 at Serock in Poland, is a day to celebrate Romani culture and raise awareness of the issues facing Romani people. On an earlier occasion, Pope John Paul II had exhorted his followers to treat Romanies with compassion and respect. Moreover, the US claims to be committed to the cause of protecting and promoting the human rights of Romani people throughout Europe.

While stressing the need for achieving equality, opportunity, and inclusion for all Roma in society, John Kerry stated on behalf of President Obama: "Roma continue to face wide-ranging discrimination in access to education, employment, housing, and healthcare. In recent years, the global economic crisis slowed progress to address these challenges and led to growing anti-Roma rhetoric and, even more alarming, violence."

"The walling off of some Roma villages from neighboring areas and the eviction of entire communities of Roma families from their homes vividly illustrates their exclusion and isolation. We cannot ignore these deeply troubling developments. No country can meet 21st century challenges with a large segment of its population uneducated and excluded," the statement added.

The Romani or Roma gypsies are an ethnic group living mostly in Europe, who have been traced genetically to a group migrating from the northwestern Indian Subcontinent about 1,500 years ago.  However, as a term 'gypsy' is considered derogatory by many Romanies and social activists because of negative and stereotypical associations with the term.

On IRD, the significant proportion of Europe's 12 million Roma who live in deplorable conditions will not have much to celebrate. For Roma, poverty is not the only worry for the community but the discrimination and rising ethnic tensions.

These days, Roma around the world, celebrate International Roma Day together in unity under the motto: "United in Peace, Prosperity and Solidarity!"

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