Today, the Protector of Citizens sent a special report to all local self-government units (LSUs) in the Republic of Serbia with Recommendations on conditions in Roma settlements in a state of emergency and the implementation of protection measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A large number of residents of informal settlements, nearly six hundred in Serbia, do not have access to water, electricity or the Internet and are not in a position to maintain basic hygiene or enable children to attend televised school classes. The existential problems that the inhabitants of Roma settlements encounter daily have been further exacerbated by the declaration of a coronavirus epidemic in Serbia. In order to act preventively amid the state of emergency, the Protector of Citizens met with the President of the Roma National Minority Council and the Minister of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy and urged them to undertake the necessary activities, within their competences, in all Roma settlements as soon as possible and provide them with basic living conditions, especially water for drinking and sanitation, food and hygiene packages. Also, letters were sent to all local self-government units to immediately take all measures to protect the inhabitants of informal Roma settlements.

In order to directly monitor the respect for the rights of the Roma community, the Secretariat of the Protector of Citizens, in compliance with all protective measures, did significant work on field and visited ten Roma settlements during the state of emergency, in April and May 2020. In five towns and municipalities (in Belgrade, Municipality of Čukarica, Kovin, Pančevo, Požarevac and Kostolac), representatives of the Secretariat of the Protector of Citizens together with representatives of the NGO A11, visited following settlements: Čukaricka Šuma, Cigan mala, Mali rit 1 and Mali rit 2, Sutjeska, Kanal, Stari Kostolac, Hotel Kostolac, Uzun Mirkova and Đurđeve rupe.

The special report, compiled in co-operation with the NGO A11, is the result of a visit to Roma settlements during the state of emergency and contains ten recommendations for bodies’ acting. Local self-government units were given a 60 days deadline from the receipt of Recommendations to notify the Protector of Citizens about the activities undertaken and plans for the implementation of protective measures in the event of a recurrence of the infection.

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