Inhabitants of Roma settlements are often wary of letting journalists in, but BBC Europe correspondent Jean Mackenzie was invited into one of Bulgaria’s largest Roma communities, in the city of Sliven.
The most marginalised people group in Europe is probably the Roma. They are thought to have arrived in Europe more than 600 years ago, from the Indian subcontinent, passing through Persia, Armenia, and the Balkans. In Europe the Roma have endured hardship and persecution, forcing them to live in conditions of economic and social deprivation. Today around ten million Roma live in Europe, yet very few Europeans know about their history, culture or way of life. Even worse, ignorance and prejudice by majority populations make everyday life for today’s Roma a struggle for acceptance and inclusion. Then came COVID. The pandemic has ravaged many of their communities, further cutting them off from society.