Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion informs ombudsman that 82 % of communities where they work are satisfied
The Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion has objected to the remarks made publicly last week by Czech Public Defender of Rights (ombudsman) Stanislav Křeček as part of his critique of the draft Roma Strategy for 2021-2030. The ombudsman said he considers the Agency to be "absolutely dysfunctional".
The Agency says its own data and experience from the field contravene the ombudsman's remarks. News server Romea.cz contacted the Agency for its comment.
"I have to also mention the Agency for Social Inclusion, which I consider an absolutely dysfunctional institution because many municipalities refuse to collaborate with it," the ombudsman said, blaming both the state Agency and a pressure group called the Platform for Social Housing for the fact that the number of excluded localities has almost tripled while they have been active. Petr Syruček, spokesperson for the Ministry for Regional Development, which supervises the Department/Agency for Social Inclusion, directed by Romani community member David Beňák, responded with the following information: "At the moment, 169 municipalities all over the Czech Republic are cooperating with the Agency in all of the types of support we offer. At the close of 2020, an investigation was undertaken to, among other things, assess the quality of those collaborations. The Agency asked representatives of each cooperating municipality about the interventions by the Agency on their territories. Overall, 82 % of them expressed satisfaction."
"In 2019 alone (the data for 2020 is still being processed) the Agency arranged for almost 8 000 people to receive debt counseling, aided 1 200 people with acquiring housing or staying in their housing, and thanks to the Agency's support, municipalities have 60 new crime prevention assistants available to them. Also thanks to collaboration with the Agency, 3 500 children enjoy better conditions for education, roughly 1 500 of whom are Romani. The Agency also systematically assists with advocating for effective legislative tools to combat social exclusion at local and national level," Syruček told Romea.cz.
Křeček has been criticized for his remarks on the draft Roma Strategy by representatives of nonprofit organizations and by some volunteer civil society members of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs. Those members said Křeček does not understand the powers of his office, made untruthful statements about the Roma Strategy, and intentionally, systematically undermines the dignity of Romani people with his remarks.
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