Causes of Poverty in SlovakiaThe country of Slovakia was once known as Czechoslovakia until its peaceful dissolution in 1993, which in turn created the Czech Republic. Today, the country is home to more than five million citizens with a population that has been steadily growing over the past decade. According to The World Bank, Slovakia also has a poverty rate of 12.6 percent, which roughly equals just less than 700,000 people. The causes of poverty in Slovakia are varied and run deep through the country’s history.

One of the suggested causes of poverty in Slovakia is its prolonged dependence on factories. During its time as Czechoslovakia during World War II, the country served the Nazi regime by supporting the war machine with supplies and troops and by aiding its efforts to ethnically cleanse Europe.

After World War II, Czechoslovakia came under the control of the Soviet Union and focused on industries such as coal mining, producing steel and machinery. When the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union collapsed, the demand for these industries decreased, leaving many workers out of a job.

The industries of Slovakia are still focused on heavy machinery production, mostly the production of cars. This, combined with the fact that the industries of Slovakia lack any competition among one another, is one of the main causes of poverty in Slovakia. It should be noted that stronger product market competition could assist in alleviating this cause.

Furthermore, Slovakia ranks low on the list of European Union countries in terms of innovation. Within the European Union, Slovakia ranked next to last in knowledge-creation and ranked last for innovation and entrepreneurship. Slovakia also lacks investment in education and the application of information technology.

Ethnic poverty is very prevalent among the population of Slovakia, particularly within the Roma population. Roma are considered some of the poorest and most marginalized group in the entire country. The Roms became marginalized during WWII, and many who survived fled the country. Those currently living in Slovakia today live in shanty towns or ghettos.

Despite the hardships that Slovakia has endured, there is positive news about the economic situation in the country. According to The Slovak Spectator, “the labor market surpassed several milestones: 1) the number of jobs in the economy rose to an all-time high; 2) the number of jobless declined to pre-crisis levels; 3) the unemployment rate declined below the eurozone’s, for the first time ever.” Though there are sure to be challenges ahead, the country seems to be on the right path to solving the causes of poverty of Slovakia.

Derrick Chariker

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Slovakia

Located in Central Europe, just south of Poland, lies the Slovak Republic – otherwise called Slovakia. After returning to a market economy at the end of 1989 after the Czechoslovakian “Velvet Revolution” and suffering some brief years of economic hardship after its separation from the Czech Republic, the country has implemented many economic reforms. Today, the 5.4 million inhabitants of Slovakia enjoy an open economy with strong growth and a sound banking sector. Despite its economic success, however, Slovakia is still affected by a number of harmful diseases. Here are the most common diseases in Slovakia today:

Ischemic Heart Disease
A condition characterized by narrowed heart arteries, thus reducing blood flow to the heart, ischemic heart disease can eventually result in unexpected heart attack. Also known as coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease was assessed to be the most fatal of the common diseases in Slovakia in 2005. By 2015, it was still the most fatal, but the prevalence of deaths by the disease had fortunately decreased by 16.8 percent.

Cerebrovascular Disease
Cerebrovascular disease refers to any disease affecting blood flow to the brain. Such disorders often result in aneurysms, carotid stenosis, intracranial stenosis, vertebral stenosis, stroke and vascular malformations. In 2015, cerebrovascular disease was the second most fatal common disease in Slovakia, and had been for the past decade. However, the disease had fortunately decreased in prevalence by 17.4 percent within those 10 years.

Lung Cancer
A type of cancer beginning in the lungs, lung cancer can cause a person to cough up blood, experience chronic fatigue, have recurrent respiratory problems and lose weight unexpectedly, to name just a few symptoms. Smoking is cited as a high risk factor for developing lung cancer. In 2005, lung cancer was the third most fatal of the common diseases in Slovakia. In 2015, it remains so, but the prevalence of death by the disease has decreased by 2.8 percent.

Thankfully, the most common diseases in Slovakia have been decreasing in prevalence for the past decade. In addition, it was announced in 2015 that Slovakia would be focusing on assessing the country’s public health situation, including working on running more effective public health campaigns. Obviously, Slovakia is dedicated to improving the country’s health standards and reducing the prevalence of the most common diseases affecting its citizens.

Shannon Golden

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in SlovakiaThe state of human rights in Slovakia, an EU member state located in central Europe, is in need of major reform. The discrimination against the Romani people – also known as Gypsies – has been carried out in various forms, such as restrictions on the right to education and ill treatment by police forces.

The Roma population, which constitutes approximately two to four percent of the Slovakian population, is the second largest minority group in Slovakia. The most prevalent type of discrimination against the Romani people in Slovakia has occurred in the education system, in the form of segregating Romani children. A joint report by the Amnesty International and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), published on March 1, 2017, revealed that Romani children are regularly assessed as having “mild mental disabilities” and are sent to special schools that provide an inferior education. Although Slovakia had already received a threat of fines from the European Commission two years ago for breaching EU discrimination laws, racial segregation in schools is still rampant across the country.

Another form of discrimination that is representative of the current state of human rights in Slovakia is the ill treatment of Roma by the police. According to the Slovakia 2016 Human Rights Report published by the U.S. Department of State, a number of NGOs and members of the Romani community have reported incidents of police officers abusing suspects both while being arrested and after being imprisoned. For instance, in 2010 a Romani minor who was arrested for robbery claimed that police officers committed acts of violence against him in order to force him into giving a confession. In July 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the state failed to carry out an adequate investigation into this incident and ordered the Slovakian government to pay €1,500 to the minor, in addition to legal costs.

The aforementioned cases of discrimination illustrate that human rights in Slovakia are in need of substantial improvement. While numerous members of the Romani community are already fighting for social inclusion and equal opportunities, efforts from the civil society and government will be crucial in eliminating such deep-rooted human rights issues.

Minh Joo Yi

10 Facts About Refugees in Slovakia
Over the past several months, the influx of migrants in Europe has notoriously prompted headlines about the manageability of refugees and illegal immigrants on the continent. To explore the details about one country in particular, here are 10 facts about refugees in Slovakia:

  1. As of 2015, the foreign population in Slovakia is about 1.56 percent of the total population, numbering approximately 84 thousand people. This is one of the lowest rates in the entire European Union.
  2. Rates of migration are dramatically rising since Slovakia’s admission into the EU in 2004. The total number of foreign-born residents has quadrupled and continues to increase by approximately 8,000 new arrivals each year.
  3. The highest percentage of new migrants originate from Ukraine and nearly half come from Slovakia’s bordering countries, also including Poland, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. Outside the EU, the largest populations represented are from Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia, Russia, Vietnam, China and Syria.
  4. The most commonly reported reason for applicants seeking to relocate to Slovakia is for work. As for arranged arrivals, they typically utilize refugee camps in Slovakia as a backup when neighboring camps, often in Austria, face added strain.
  5. Numerous politicians in the country sparked controversy in 2015 with public statements regarding how Slovakia would only accept Christian refugees: “We could take in 800 Muslims but we don’t have any mosques in Slovakia, so how can Muslims be integrated if they are not going to like it here?” Many leaders retain the political belief that Slovakia is happy to help as a transit country but do not intend to house refugees in Slovakia as a final destination.
  6. Slovakia’s political stance is also in disagreement with many of their EU partners. Last year, a Syrian refugee relocation referendum was passed and originally arranged for Slovakia to take on a mere 1,000 out of 40,000 new refugees. However, Slovakia was one of only four countries to vote against the agreement, eventually conceding to 200.
  7. Socially, Slovakian citizens also oppose new refugees. Frequent marches and demonstrations against the perceived ‘Islamization of Slovakia’ are known to occur. As another example, the townspeople of Gabčíkovo, home to a major camp in the country, voted with a 97 percent majority to disallow fresh entrants because they value the culturally homogenous history of the country.
  8. Refugees in Slovakia are aware of the backlash as well, and reportedly often arrive in the country dissatisfied. In this respect, the views of the refugees are consistent with that of the government – Slovakia is meant to be a transit country on the path to Western Europe or the United States.
  9. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), formal legal regulations are also lacking regarding the status of many refugees. Slovakia does not have an established legal framework to define statelessness or people in flight, and there are also some difficulties with establishing dual citizenship. However, the UNHCR is also helping to overcome some of these barriers by sponsoring training programs and establishing assessment mechanisms.
  10. In addition to the camp in Gabčíkovo mentioned above, other major refugee camps are located in Rohovce and Humenné. Often such camps were originally intended to be temporary shelters during certain international crises but were later extended or reopened after prolonged instability. These areas are all near Slovakia’s borders with Hungary and Ukraine.

As a relatively poorer nation of Eastern Europe, Slovakia’s concerns for accommodating a large number of migrants socially and economically may prevail, but it is important to also ensure that refugees in Slovakia are welcomed to the highest possible degree. As the UNHCR rhetoric reiterates, Slovakia’s cooperation with resettlement arrangements is greatly needed for the most vulnerable citizens around the world.

Zachary Machuga

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Slovakia
Slovakia has only been a state for less than three decades; it became independent from Czechoslovakia in 1993. Since then it has struggled to break the cycle of poverty. Having experienced hard economic reforms to join the European Union, the country is known as the eurozone’s second-poorest member. With a population of 5.4 million and a weakening employment rate, poverty in Slovakia continues to rise.

According to the “Phenomenon of Poverty and Economic Inequality in the Slovak Republic,” Slovakia has a poverty rate of 13%, which equates to about 700,000 people.

The Harsh Effects of Poverty in Slovakia

In a study, 32% of respondents said their living standards are lower than they were before 1989. Working-class families with three or four more children, the elderly and the handicapped have felt this burden the most.

Moreover, those at risk of poverty are totaled at 112,200 people, representing 20.6% of Slovakia’s total population. Citizens whose income is below 60% of the median income face a 13% risk of living in poverty.

For the above reasons, citizens have been forced to rely on government programs to get by, putting the state deeper in debt.

Additionally, ethnic poverty is well apparent. Romas are marginalized from the rest of the population, they live the worst off, in shanty settlements grappling with little to no money. Around four percent of the population suffers from “severe housing deprivation.”

Moreover, unemployment continues to increase; the long-term unemployment rate in the Slovak Republic stands at 8.8% compared to the OECD average of only 2.6%. The share of children living in workless households stands at 6.9% and lies below the OCED average.

Studies have shown that the problem arises from economic inequality and an absence of business competitiveness throughout the country. Additionally, a lag in technological development has led to inadequate modern infrastructure — one of the primary ways for generating revenue.

To counteract the rate of poverty in Slovakia, the state established the Institute for Subsistence Law: those whose monthly income is below a minimum fixed amount, are entitled to social assistance benefits.

Furthermore, the EU also recognizes this increase of poverty throughout Europe as seen with the European Commission’s ten-year economic plan called “Europe 2020.”

They plan to raise the employment rate of the population aged 20-64 from the current 69% to 75%. They also aim to reduce the number of Europeans living below the poverty line by 25%, lifting 20 million people out of poverty from the current 80 million in the region; including Slovakia.

Marcelo Guadiana

Photo: Flickr