MARCH 5 2007 19:48h
About 1 million Roma children "remain invisible" in countries in southeastern Europe without documents, said a U.N. report.
The UNICEF report, released in conjunction with a separate study on Roma living in Germany by Berlin's Technical University, found Roma children in southeastern Europe are facing "human rights abuses on a large scale".
It said they are facing discrimination and exclusion from basic healthcare and education services. According to the report, many living in informal settlements are unable to get the documentation needed to access social services or to vote.
Their children often do not have birth certificates and remain invisible to the social agencies that ensure children have medical check-ups and attend school.
As many as one million Roma children in southeastern Europe are unaccounted for in official statistics, said UNICEF official Gordon Alexander. He called on the European Union to use its leverage to raise accountability.
"If you look at new member states, their problems have not been solved; in fact, they are getting worse," he said.
UNICEF presented the report at the German parliament together with the report on Roma in Germany, prepared by the Technical University.
That study found there are some 50,000 Roma living in Germany on refugee status who are not eligible for integration and language courses because they came to the country from the former Yugoslavia.