Social & Economic rights

Friday, 3 April 2020

APPEAL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA: ASSISTANCE IN FOOD FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE URGENTLY NEEDED

Nongovernmental organisation Praxis appeals on the Government of the Republic of Serbia to take urgent measures to enable the most deprived citizens access to soup kitchens, food packages and hygienic items in their local communities, though they are undocumented (do not have IDs or registered residence in locations of actual residence, no birth registry or citizenship certificates).

Since the breakout of the COVID-19 epidemics and entry into force of the state of emergency, the most deprived citizens face the problems which put their basic existance at risk. The members of the Roma ethnic minority, who are also the most vulnerable and marginalised group of the society are in the most difficult situation. Particularly vulnerable among them is a still substantial number of undocumented persons in Serbia.

Due to the current situation, assistance in food and hygienic items is distributed to the vulnerable categories in the cities and municipalities in the Republic of Serbia: pensioners with low income, persons over 65, beneficiaries of financial social assistance, etc.

Notwithstanding, access to soup kitchens, cash grants, assistance in food and hygiene packages are not accessible to undocumented persons or persons without registered residence in the places where they live, because they are invisible to the system. Being undocumented, these persons cannot exercise their basic socioeconomic rights since they cannot be registered as service beneficiaries. Assistance is currently distributed on the basis of the available records of the local authorities or those of social welfare centres. These persons are excluded from such records for lack of documentation or impossibility to register residence.

We emphasize that these persons live on the margins of the society, in informal settlements, without water and sanitation, in deep poverty. The unemployment rate of the Roma is extremely high. They most frequently provided for their families by taking seasonal, temporary and unqualified physical jobs, on the black market and without secured labour-related rights most often, as well as by collecting secondary raw materials. Upon the breakout of the epidemics and declaration of the state of emergency, they remain without any income, both due to the dramatic decrease of offer of the jobs they used to engage in as well as due to restriction of movement and fear of infection by coronavirus. This left them without any means to cover for the most basic needs, which will inevitably lead to hunger, fall of immunity and sickness and result in increased risk of contracting coronavirus. The citizens who are compelled, by force majeure, to continue collecting secondary raw materials, expose themselves to the risk of infection when going into the streets every day, and unwillingly also put public health at risk.

Therefore we appeal on the Government of the Republic of Serbia to take urgent measures, in order to allow the undocumented persons and persons not registered in the records of local authorities and social welfare centres to receive meals in soup kitchens, food and hygiene packages in the communities where they actually live.

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action