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Do You Speak Corona? The Association for Human Rights Protection of Roma – Stip was in the first line of helpers in the Republic of Macedonia

The following article was written by Mr Shenaj Osmanov from the Association for Human Rights Protection of Roma – Stip.


COVID-19 does not choose who will be infected, it does not discriminate, but the consequences –  health, social and economic – are not the same for everyone. The possibilities for implementing preventive measures to protect against infection, maintaining hygiene, physical distance and self-isolation are not the same. Vulnerable and marginalized groups of citizens as well as Roma do not have equal opportunities to protect or meet basic needs for food, medicine, hygiene and shelter.

From the very beginning, after the declaration of the state of emergency, the Association for Roma Rights - Stip together with other civil activists, the firsts and so far the only ones, went out on the field in the Roma settlements on the territory of the whole country. We did not have time for our own fears of infection, from the first day of the crisis because we were on the first line of helpers in constant communication with the citizens. We assessed the needs for health care, we monitored the realization of the regular services for social protection, every day we tried to interpret the new, extraordinary measures, in order to find the way how these measures will be realized in practice.

At the end of April, the second month of the state of emergency, not only is there no response to additional preventive measures, but neither the already adopted preventive measures, nor the regular system of social protection and implementation of social services are functioning. In the field, in the Centers for Social Work throughout the country, the employees are unavailable or absent from the jobs, and in some places they even rudely harass the Roma who address them for what belongs to them.

Requests, with very specific and precise measures that need to be implemented quickly to protect and assist vulnerable groups and citizens, have been sent to all competent institutions in RSM - by the Prime Minister, the Government, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs politics, mayors and to the main and local crisis coordination headquarters.

They either did not respond or declared themselves incompetent, or in writing, "recited" what is written in the laws and regulations by force of law. (Link to requests and responses from institutions: https://bit.ly/2yul1Ov)


During March-June 2020 FUEN has conducted a survey entitled Do You Speak Corona? on the situation of European minorities during the pandemic. The online questionnaire focused on the availability of information related to COVID-19 in general, healthcare information related to the outbreak, the existence of an emergency hotline operated in minority language and the availability of online education in minority language. The short report on the results is here and you can download the whole report in PDF format by clicking here.

This series of case studies is the continuation of the Do You Speak Corona? project.