On International Roma Day – 8 April, the Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pašalić, has underscored that, amid pandemic, the Roma population, that is for the most part discriminated against and marginalized, is at a much greater risk and has called on the competent authorities to make additional efforts to improve the Roma assistance services in such emergency circumstances.

“A predominant part of the Roma community in the Republic of Serbia, especially families living in informal settlements, are in a challenging position. I call on the competent authorities to make additional efforts to mitigate the pandemic consequences, which can be striking in the social and economic segment of the Roma community life “ Mr. Pašalić has stated.

Given that most Roma settlements in the Republic of Serbia do not have access to water, electricity or the Internet and are not in a position to maintain basic hygiene or to enable children to attend school classes via the Internet, the Protector of Citizens reminded that they had visited ten Roma settlements during the state of emergency immediately upon the pandemic outbreak.

Inadequate living conditions and lack of sanitary infrastructure make it impossible in the first place to fully comply with preventive measures which puts members of the Roma community in an adverse position and at even greater risk, Pašalić said.

“The Covid-19 virus pandemic has been going on for a year now and additional assistance and support measures to the Roma community rights are needed. I expect that the local self-government units where Roma settlements are located will fully comply with the recommendations we issued last year, “said Pašalić.

World Roma Day was declared in 1990 in the Polish city of Serock, in remembrance of the first World Roma Congress held in early April 1971 in London.