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The Protector of Citizens, Zoran Pašalić, extends his congratulations on 8 April, International Roma Day, and calls on all citizens not to permit the solidarity among people to fade away amid the pressure of the global economic crisis and growing apathy. He also urges them to pay attention to the needs of others and to extend their efficient and effective support to vulnerable social groups, including the Roma.

Pašalić indicates that the Roma still are the most discriminated against and marginalized social group, even though they are the largest minority community in Europe.

The Roma women belong to the most endangered social categories. They get married at an early age, face multiple pregnancies at a short interval, financial and other dependence on partners or elderly family members, and have a high risk of domestic and intimate-partner violence. The second most vulnerable group is Roma children, whose overall development in poverty and informal settlements carries many risks.

“There are systemic problems that the Roma encounter daily. Although the country has undertaken a range of measures and activities in the area of education, healthcare, and obtaining personal documents, the quality of life of this community did not improve to a large extent” the Protector of Citizens warned and added that the goals to be achieved refer to more accessible education, regular health care, reducing poverty through facilitated employment.

He added that the results achieved in improving the position of the Roma failed to remove key barriers in the process of their integration which is why the overall support for the Roma national minority needs to remain in focus. “We need to show preparedness when it comes to solving complex issues of that community. The Protector of Citizens is mandated to protect the rights of national minorities and last year was marked by a set of activities taken to empower and improve the position of the Roma, which have been laid out in the Institution’s Regular Annual Report” Pašalić highlighted. The Protector of Citizens will also monitor the implementation of measures of the new Strategy for Social Inclusion of the Roma for 2022-2030, adopted by the Government of the Republic of Serbia on 3 February this year.