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July 6, 2020
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Slovakia's Romani settlements are very endangered by the COVID-19 pandemic, some have no access to potable water

19.3.2020 17:01
Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for the Romani Community,  Ábel Ravasz. (2019) (PHOTO: minv.sk)
Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for the Romani Community, Ábel Ravasz. (2019) (PHOTO: minv.sk)

The Romani settlements in Slovakia are very endangered by the current COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for the Romani Community, Ábel Ravasz. He sees the main problem in a lack of access to clean, hot water for personal hygiene.

Inhabitants of the settlements frequently do not even have basic personal hygiene materials on hand, and for that reason Ravasz has been negotiating to facilitate their access to such supplies. Some settlements and localities with higher concentrations of impoverished Romani people have just limited access to potable water and can only gain access to running water in their living arrangements by prepaying smart cards that allow them to access those utilities.

The complications of disbursing welfare benefits to settlement residents at this time is also being currently addressed by the Government. The subject of how the post office should be used for such disbursal during this crisis was part of a recent session of the Central Crisis Team in Slovakia.

A proposal by nonprofit organizations and Ravasz that the post office should deliver the benefits directly to settlement residents was not adopted. The Plenipotentiary has since called on postal workers, the state security units and settlement inhabitants to behave as courteously and humanely as possible when the benefits become available.

"I am appealing to each individual to really behave courteously, and that means the police, that includes the postal workers and the clients. The post office has decided that it will not allow people into its buildings without face masks. If somebody does not have a face mask or another means of protection on, that person will not get into the post office. The solution, naturally, is not for a group of people to share the same face mask, but it is necessary for each individual to use his or her own scarf, shawl, piece of fabric, whatever," Ravasz said in an interview for the Slovak association Zdiel'anie ("Sharing").

brf, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Chudoba, COVID-19, Police, settlement



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