Statement by Francoise Jacob, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Serbia at the SDG Fund event.
Today the United Nations in Serbia calls for a greater focus from the leadership and institutions on addressing the rising inequalities that we see in Serbia, as a consequence of the multiple economic and health crises, and insufficient social protection mechanisms.
In the last quarter of 2022, in a joint initiative with the government of Serbia and multiple ministries, we carried out several surveys that shows that both absolute and relative poverty have increased in country.
Despite a number of support measures taken by the government, the most vulnerable segments of the society struggle immensely with the rising costs of living, access to food, access to quality health and social protection services - including families under the poverty line with small children, elderly people, refugees & asylum seekers, people with disabilities, Roma communities and internally displaced persons.
What is seen in Serbia is also a global trend where the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer, and we believe that we should not drop the guard on fighting inequalities. We want to prioritise and fast-track actions for the poorest and most marginalised people and narrow the gaps with the rest of society.
This also means that the government has to prioritize financing social protection mechanisms, continue to refine the targeting of such systems, and continue to improve effective public finance management and public procurement to re-allocate fund to social programmes.
Serbia has adopted the Leave No One Behind Strategy, which is at the core of agenda 2030, and which also responds to the country commitments to international human rights mechanisms. It has already adjusted some of the social protection tools. Now is the time to accelerate the action, ensure fairness and equity, including prioritizing budget allocations at national and local levels and reach out to all people, who, in Belgrade, and all around the country, are struggling every month to make ends meet.