Impact of the COVID19 on vulnerable groups and groups at risk causes, outcomes and recommendations
10 December 2020
The analysis examines the position of vulnerable groups and groups at risk (Roma men and women, homeless people, persons with disabilities, youth, LGBTI people, persons deprived of their liberty, people living with HIV, human rights defenders, journalists and the media), starting from the causes that had existed before the announcement of the pandemic, and which were especially magnified during the pandemic caused by the coronavirus in the Republic of Serbia, and shows the negative outcomes on these groups of people. Some of the negative outcomes that are reflected in the analysis are: the inability of Roma man and women, homeless people, but also certain persons with disabilities, LGBTI and young people to generate income and fulfil basic needs; hindered access to health care and services for LGBTI people (mainly transgender persons) and people living with HIV which were unable to access necessary treatments during the COVID-19 epidemic; lack or limited access to information of public importance, primarily in the context of continuous, truthful and timely information in a variety of custom formats, including simplified formats easy to understand, which affected almost all examined groups including human rights defenders and media workers due to which their ability to adequately perform their activities was hindered. Most often immediate causes are related to the lack of necessary identification of groups at particular risk, but also imposed restriction on movement, as well as delays in responding to the epidemic by the State authorities. On the other hand, as the main root causes, the analysis reveals the insufficient capacities and unpreparedness of the State authorities at all levels to respond to the epidemic, non-existence of comprehensive disaggregated data on vulnerable populations, but also insufficient budget allocations at the national and local levels to enable the realization of basic human rights of the most vulnerable citizens, as well as the lack of participation in policy and decision making at both national and local levels. Some of the structural causes from this analysis are the lack of systemic measures to provide equal access to the basic human rights to all, as well as the decades of systemic discrimination. Apart from the examination of those groups, the analysis additionally stresses that the Republic of Serbia is a country of growing disparities between the poorest and richest. According to available data, 31.7% of the population of the Republic of Serbia (2.18 million) are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, and that during the COVID-19 epidemic, households whose incomes are solely or mainly from the informal economy are at particular risk of poverty.
The analysis was prepared by the United Nations Human Rights Team in Serbia, with the support of the Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of Serbia, and includes findings from various UN human rights mechanisms, as well as other relevant national and international sources that have continuously highlighted the vulnerability of those groups in the Republic of Serbia, but also encompasses information and opinion of 54 civil society organizations which participated in this analysis through the survey that was conducted.