The voices of older ethnic minorities and migrants are not heard in Europe

PRESS RELEASE                                                                            
Brussels, 12 November 2012


Ce communiqué est également disponible en français ici.


Equality Summit, 22-23 November

 The voices of older ethnic minorities and migrants are not heard in Europe


Older migrants and ethnic & religious minorities face specific challenges in Europe, for instance, in accessing care, the labour market, and being able to participate fully in society. Ahead of the EU Equality Summit today and tomorrow, ENAR and AGE Platform Europe call on the EU and its Member States to address these issues by adopting targeted measures and encouraging initiatives in this area.

The EU is home to a significant population of older migrants and ethnic and religious minorities, many of whom are approaching or have entered into their fifties, having settled in European countries during their early-working and childhood years. Numbers will continue to grow with current demographic trends and ongoing migration to Europe. Yet governments across Europe as well as local initiatives do not target this population group, who face higher risks of discrimination, poverty, isolation and health problems.

Many older migrants and ethnic and religious minorities encounter significant barriers in the labour market due to a combination of age and ethnic discrimination. “I worked in a bank for 30 years. After changes in the management, employees above 40 were asked to sign a letter of resignation. This totally changed my social status: as a 47-year-old Roma, I was absolutely not interesting for employers”, says a 56-year-old woman in Slovakia.

Pensioner poverty affects older migrants and ethnic and religious minorities in particular, especially linked to the current economic crisis, as pensions are being reduced and migrants blamed for economic downturn. In the United Kingdom, for instance, nearly one in two Bangladeshi and Pakistani pensioners live in poverty, as do one in four older Black Caribbean people, compared to one in six White UK pensioners.

Yet, older migrants and ethnic and religious minorities have not only contributed financially to their ‘host’ countries’ economies throughout their working lives, but they have also made - and continue to make -  a valuable contribution to society by volunteering, in particular within their own communities, in education and/or social services.

Chibo Onyeji, ENAR Chair, said: “Older migrants and ethnic and religious minorities are not always given the opportunity to participate equally in the economic and social life of their country of residence. This needs to change, especially in light of growing population ageing in Europe. How can the needs of the almost 7 million migrants aged 60 and older present in the EU be ignored – not to mention all the ethnic and religious minorities who are European citizens? Decision makers and public authorities must start taking the specific challenges they face seriously.”

According to Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Secretary General, When devising future migration, integration and social policies, EU policy makers should take adequate consideration of the needs of this diverse and potentially vulnerable societal group and specific measures to facilitate their social and economic inclusion.”




Useful links:

  • For more testimonies, best practices and information on the situation of older migrants and ethnic minorities in Europe, see ENAR and AGE’s joint paper.
Thursday 22 November 2012
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