:: National context

Available estimates from the Council of Europe suggest there are about 30 000 Roma living in Belgium, which represent 0.29% of the total population.

According to the National Roma Integration Strategy (NRIS), there are four main groups of ‘Roma’ in Belgium, which can be subdivided on the basis of their migration history. The first three groups are composed of Belgian citizens mainly: 

‘Manouches’: the Belgian Sinti (as in France, Switzerland and certain areas of Germany) self-identified as Manouches. There are around 1 500 Manouches living in Belgium.

Roma: descendants of Roma who arrived in Belgium following the abolition of slavery in Moldavia and Wallachia in 1856. There are around 750 Roma living in Belgium.

’Voyageurs’ (Travellers): indigenous Belgians, descendants of the former itinerant craftsmen. Ethnically they are not linked to the Roma but they share certain cultural characteristics associated with their nomadic lifestyle (housing, mobility, trades). They currently live in caravans or houses. Their first language is Dutch (in Flanders) or French (in Wallonia) but they still use a lot of words that have been borrowed from their own language, Bargoens. It is estimated that there are around 7 000 Voyageurs living in Belgium. 

Roma migrants: The first Eastern European Roma came to Belgium after the World War Two (among others, Yugoslavian Roma looking for work). However the major influx of migrants was triggered by the fall of the Iron Curtain. The NRIS refers to the estimates of the Council of Europe (“around 30 000 Roma living in Belgium”), but it remains confusing whether this applies to migrant Roma or the whole Roma population in Belgium . According to the glossary of the Council of Europe, the term Roma “covers a wide diversity of the groups concerned”, thus the estimates do not seem to apply exclusively to Roma migrants. 

Terms and Conditions © 2016 - 2019, All Rights Reserved, Euro Health Mediators