THE NEW Atlas of Roma Communities shows there are 14 Roma settlements in Slovakia in conditions similar to the Middle Ages, lacking access to water, sewers, electricity or gas.

On the other hand, almost half of the approximately 402,000 Roma living in Slovakia are integrated among the majority inhabitants. Another 95,000 Roma live on the edges of municipalities and another 74,000 reside in segregated settlements. About 46,000 Roma live in ghettos within cities and villages, according to the Atlas.

“Everyone who wants to know something about Roma, who works with them and wants to comment on this issue [should read the atlas],” Alexander Mušinka, who participated in the project, told the Sme daily. “The Atlas clearly showed that most of those claims about Roma are not true. I mean, the overall number [of Roma], the number of segregated settlements, inhabitants or the illegality of land.”

The Atlas of Roma Communities was published by the Prešov University and Labour Ministry which ordered it from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for €70,000.

The main source of information was a questionnaire with more than 500 questions filled by interviewers directly in municipalities in which more than 30 Roma live. In 2010 publishers conducted a survey discovering that there are 1,070 such municipalities and 400 which have fewer than 30 Roma. Therefore, there are around 4,600 Roma who are not accounted for in the report, which is an acceptable statistical discrepancy, according to Mušinka.

According to the report, 42 percent of Roma settlements do not have sewage systems, 14 lack any infrastructure and 7.2 percent of households in segregated settlements do not have access to drinking water. People living in such settlements draw water from natural sources, hydrants or their neighbours.

Moreover, there are around 31,000 Roma living in huts and around one-third of all land in settlements and ghettoes lack a lawful property deed. There are 618 municipalities where Roma constitute a majority which lack a doctor. A paediatrician is not present in 737 of such municipalities.

Government Proxy for Roma Communities Peter Pollák of Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) praised the report, adding that the discoveries will be reflected in his policy.

“It provides the best information so far to us,” Pollák said.