Travellers and their Precarious Living Situation in Belgium

The quality of life of Roma and Travellers is below average in Western European countries. Recent large-scale survey by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) confirmed this information. One-third of Roma cannot meet their basic needs which inevitably has a negative impact on young children’s health, development and well-being. Roma adults’ life expectancy is 13 to 14 years lower than average. Of all the countries surveyed, Belgium scored worst in terms of sufficient emplacements and displacement of caravan dwellers.   

FRA asked 482 Roma and 123 Travellers about their daily life and experiences of discrimination in Belgium in a survey carried out in 2018 and 2019. This video shows some of the main results of the survey in Belgium focusing on poverty, employment, housing, average life expectancy and education.

On 20 November, the results of the survey were presented during an online seminar with powerful video testimonials from Roma and Travellers . REYN Belgium staff member representing associations of ethnic minorities Kim Janssens, talked about the problem of the acute shortage of campsites in Belgium today. There are too few residential sites for them to live in mobile homes or caravans. On private sites, Travellers risk being forced out. A stable living situation is crucial to improve other areas of life as well. Going to school remains a sore point for many Roma and Traveller children. Obviously, the lack of residential places is a serious obstacle to a regular attendance at school.

REYN Belgium has been very active in advocating for more adequate living conditions of Roma and Traveller families, strongly believing that it is fundamental to ensure that these families are guaranteed the right social support in the areas where they live, even if only temporarily. To do so, the network has put lots of efforts in developing a family support net around children and parents, made of professionals who share a common vision and are committed to the cause.

To learn more about REYN Belgium, visit their website and follow the Facebook page.