The Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, within the framework of its competences and in accordance with the needs caused on the ground by the COVID-19 pandemic, had reacted in an urgent manner so that even the most vulnerable categories of the population were covered by all prescribed measures in order to suppress the spread of the virus, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-government, Stevan Gligorin, has said at the final national conference “Reducing Additional Vulnerability of Roma Men and Women and other Marginalised Groups, Caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic in 18 Local Self-government Units”, which is implemented as part of the programme “Inclusion of Roma and other Marginalised Groups in Serbia”.

Speaking in the session dedicated to the water supply of substandard settlements, where members of the Roma national minority live in Serbia, he has stated that MDULS, guided by the needs on the ground and by mapping substandard settlements in Serbia according to risks and access to rights in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, together with the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit, as well as with other partner institutions and organizations, had made an appeal to all LSUs on the territory of which such settlements exist to provide access to drinking water to the residents of these settlements during the pandemic, as well as to abstain from turning the electricity off. All the cities and municipalities in Serbia on whose territories the substandard settlements exist are invited to solve the issue of water supply in a permanent and sustainable way.

Guided by the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030, and above all by the needs of vulnerable and marginalized groups, with the aim that no one in society should be left out, especially not during the pandemic, MDULS had additionally supported the Roma population when informing them about the COVID-19 pandemic, applying for immunization and vaccination. Only in a period of six months, with the support of MDULS and partner organizations, over 18,000 Roma were registered for vaccination, while over 20,000 were vaccinated. Also, MDULS had, in cooperation with the Red Cross, GIZ, the Open Society Foundation and SCTM, distributed over 12,000 hygiene family packages for the most vulnerable families in 179 settlements in 29 cities and municipalities in Serbia, worth over EUR 170 thousand, as a contribution in the fight against the COVID-19.

“This is an age when prevention is more important than the cure and treatment, and finding permanent and sustainable solutions for the problems of the residents of substandard settlements in Serbia is a challenge that we must respond to. On that path, the line ministries, as well as our domestic and international partners, have and will have a credible partner in MDULS”, the State Secretary Gligorin has concluded.

Today’s conference was organized by the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit, the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue and GIZ.