Images: Romanian Roma Hold Up Obscure Sign No One Is Understanding

Bibluh Deriba stepped forward to shake hands with a small grey-haired man with cane. The man stopped and grasped the Romanian Roma man’s hand. Then his skin glowed in the flashbulbs.

Mr. Deriba couldn’t have guessed how long his life would be.

“I was born on the road” — he said, gesturing across Tuxedo Square, the legendary center of Roma life here in Bucharest — “and I died on the street.”

Every day, he said, he passed through the red-light district of the Boyacaru district, a sprawl of informal stands and dormitories crowded with itinerant Roma. With no formal ties to the Roma community, he’d been living there for years, paying daily dues.

Today, the skin and gray hair have faded, but the scar on his back is still visible. And just below the eye brow sits the sign “Free Immigration.” It’s hard to tell whether that’s something the homeless Mr. Deriba has designed. It’s not, but the sign still offers services to gypsies that European politicians like Interior Minister Horst Seehofer don’t know how to deliver.

The view from above Romania’s Roma settlements.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Roma people in Romania have long been stereotyped as a dysfunctional subculture, a derogatory nickname used to characterize people with dark complexions and thick skin who often struggle in poverty. But the reality is far worse: The Roma experience 40 times the rate of unemployment than other Romanian people, with twice the concentration of vulnerable individuals, including people in receipt of state benefits. And just 30 percent of Roma citizens complete a secondary education.

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