Today, we are celebrating the International Roma Day. Roma men and women are still the most vulnerable majority group in Serbia. The results achieved so far in improving their position have not yet removed some of the basic obstacles that impede their equal access to rights and inclusion in all social activities.
The Human Rights Committee, in its Concluding observations as of March this year, again expressed its concern that despite the efforts of the state to solve the problem, Roma are still facing widespread discrimination and exclusion, high unemployment rate, forced evictions and segregation in education and housing.
Our Roma fellow citizens, the residents of informal settlement in Cukaricka suma, welcome the International Roma Day this year in the settlement where living conditions are beneath human dignity, in the settlement surrounded by barriers that impede the access to it. Container settlements established as a temporary solution for the Roma evicted from informal settlement, have been in the same place for years. More than 50% of Roma girls get married before their 18th birthday, and problem of child, early and forced marriage almost exclusively affects the Roma community. Many Roma still do not have all valid personal documents and do not have access to basic rights. There is no effective free legal aid system, and for many Roma it is one of preconditions to access their rights. According to the annual report of the Commissioner for Protection of Equality, more than 40% of the total number of discrimination complaints on the basis of national affiliation and ethnic origin refer to discrimination against Roma. The precise data on the extent of unemployment do not even exist.
We appeal to competent institutions to accelerate the process of solving of the remaining problems, to responsibly, efficiently and systematically approach to improving of the position of Roma men and women. Also, we call for respect and promotion of human rights, intercultural values, dialogue, solidarity and human dignity.
We wish happy International Roma Day to Roma citizens!