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On the International Roma Day (8 April), amid the state of emergency and the implementation of the protective measures due to coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19), Mr. Zoran Pašalić, the Protector of Citizens, points out to the difficult position of a large number of the Roma, particularly Roma families, who live in informal settlements.

While the media constantly call on the population to adhere to the movement prohibition measures, physical distancing and insists on intensified hygiene measures, while the children and the youth are enabled to continue learning via television and online classrooms, it is overlooked that the inhabitants of informal settlements, around 600 in Serbia, do not have access to water, electricity or internet and that they cannot maintain basic hygiene, let alone enable their children to follow distance-learning classes.

The Protector of Citizens supports the efforts of the authorities who announced assistance in providing food staples for the inhabitants of Roma settlements, as well as in maintaining hygiene in settlements and urges the local authorities to take necessary measures to provide these settlements with access to water and electricity since meeting the basic hygienic conditions may be of critical importance in this situation, Pašalić warns. It is necessary to provide additional support to the inhabitants of informal settlements, and it is unacceptable that they are not included in the distribution of aid packages for the endangered, since a large number of Roma families live below the poverty line, the Protector of Citizens reminds.