There have been several reports of discrimination in Poland, Czechia or Germany against refugees of the Ukrainian war who happened to also be ethnically Romani.

I assume that there are no ID documents that would classify them as Roma or Sinti, and that linguistically they are assimilated. So, how are they being recognized as Roma? Are they different in appearance, clothes or surname?

  • Can you link those reports? Articles I saw, about problems in Prague, says that main difference between them and other refugees is Hungarian citizenship. And as that means that they cannot get refugee status in Czechia, no wonder that non-refugees and refugees are not treated equally. May 27, 2022 at 11:40

1 Answer 1


For the most part I expect that they are primarily identified by darker skin color and perhaps to some extent facial features. These factors are more or less prominent in different individuals. For example, see the photographs accompanying ‘They won’t accept us’: Roma refugees forced to camp at Prague train station at theguardian.com.

I can also relate a story about appearance based anti-Roma discrimination. I once went to a swimming pool operated by a private company in a central European city that has a small but visible Roma population. I was in a group that included an Indian man. He was initially refused admittance, but when the person at the door found out that he was from India, he was allowed in.

I don't have much knowledge of Romani names, but I suspect that this is also a way of identifying Romani people. The man profiled in the Guardian article has what must be a common Ukrainian name as it means "George," but his surname, Stan, does not seem to be Slavic nor German.

I have seen quite a lot of distinctive traditional Romani clothing, primarily at cultural festivals and performances. An internet image search for "roma refugees ukraine" showed such clothing in only one image, which was a photograph of a dance performance in a refugee camp, so I doubt that this is a useful means of discrimination.

According to Change in approach aims to deter Roma refugees from english.radio.cz, the Czech government is discriminating against Roma refugees indirectly by virtue of the fact that many Ukrainian Roma possess Hungarian nationality. In this case, the identifying factor is the possession of a passport from an EU country.

(In fact, this is a legitimate ground for excluding someone from refugee status under international law, but it also means that they cannot be forcibly expelled from the country without reason, and despite the minister's baffling suggestion that they should return to Ukraine, if they were to be expelled, they should be sent to Hungary or whatever other EU country whose citizenship they hold.)

  • 1
    The article says, that the difference is Hungarian nationality. The only mention about expelling is police in Dresden (Germany) not allowing them to leave the train. Czech "discrimination" is not granting them refugee status (you admit it is legitimate) and not providing them accommodation (are they obliged to provide accommodation to any UE citizen that comes to Prague?). May 27, 2022 at 11:48
  • 1
    @TadeuszKopec see my answer politics.stackexchange.com/questions/73043/… for a description of the problem with accomodations for EU citizens. Refugees and the genuinly homeless are obviously different cases, but as for providing housing, administrations face similar challenges.
    – ccprog
    May 27, 2022 at 12:54
  • @TadeuszKopec not all discrimination is illegal. If Czech authorities give the same treatment to all EU citizens who are fleeing violence in Ukraine then that is likely legal, but it is still discrimination. If they're treating EU citizens with Roma ethnicity differently from those with other ethnicity then that's probably illegal. I don't know which it is.
    – phoog
    May 27, 2022 at 13:04

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .