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Proposals to the Spanish Government for emergency measures to avoid the social and health risk of the most vulnerable Roma families [editar]

From Fundación Secretariado Gitano about the crisis of the COVID-19


Proposals to the Spanish Government for emergency measures to avoid the social and health risk of the most vulnerable Roma families

Proposals to the Government for emergency measures to avoid the social and health risk of the most vulnerable Roma families

This crisis is placing broad layers of the Spanish Roma population in a situation of serious lack of protection with regard to the enjoyment of their fundamental rights. The infection by Coronavirus has affected in its first attacks numerous Roma families in several regions of Spain. Although at first the priority has been to inform and promote prevention and containment measures, now, and after the declaration of the state of alarm in the country, we are facing a new, more complex scenario in which new social risks are combined which add to the health situation and the previous situation of high vulnerability that the Roma population is dragging.

The initial situation of the Roma population is of a high incidence of poverty, with 86% of the population below the poverty line, 46% of households in extreme poverty and an 89% rate of child poverty. Many of the Roma families have their basic source of income, already precarious, in street vendors in street markets. The closing of the markets and the impossibility of carrying out other activities, such as the collection of scrap metal, the sale of fruit, or others that sought some daily income, together with the weak presence in the minimum income programs (only 32% of the Very poor Roma households perceive it), they are beginning to generate a situation of helplessness and lack of protection that many Roma families are already manifesting throughout the spanish territory.

Therefore, we believe that it is necessary to implement urgent measures to tackle this situation and we have prepared a series of proposals that we have already sent to the spanish Government. We understand that these would be the priorities:

1. Emergency financial aid for street vendors

47% of the Roma people employed do so on their own, and the vast majority, in street vending. This activity, usually organized through cooperatives and, in some cases, with the self-employed regime, is the main source of income for the vast majority of Roma families and the closure of this activity leaves them in a situation of lack of protection and without access. to unemployment benefits. We propose:

a) Enable a mechanism of direct financial aid from which the holders of market stalls and street vendors who are in a situation of social vulnerability can benefit (a situation supported by vulnerability reports). 

b) The exemption from Social Security quotas and municipal taxes during the period that the impossibility of carrying out the economic activity lasts.

c) Extend the coverage of the minimum income programs to incorporate other families with precarious occupations and who did not receive these benefits, speeding up the procedures and facilitating access.

2. Socio-sanitary action plan in segregated environments with high social exclusion.

More than 9,000 Roma families with minors continue to live in substandard housing, and of these, more than 2,200 (about 9,000 people), in shacks and highly degraded environments (2.17% of the Roma population). All of them are spaces where there is little sanitary protection, which do not have the public health services or resources that can prevent and contain the Coronavirus. They are also environments where the health situation of people, due to the health risk of the environment, supposes previous pathologies and, therefore, they are a high-risk population. We propose:

a) Guarantee the delivery of food and basic necessities (such as medicines or basic hygiene products) and on-site health care by Civil Protection or the Military Emergency Unit.

b) Caring for and relocating people affected by the Coronavirus in spaces or health centers enabled to receive adequate care, since their current environment lacks the minimum conditions for their treatment. 

3. Action plan for families in a situation of extreme poverty.

A large part of Roma families are below the poverty line, 86%, 46% of households in extreme poverty and an 89% rate of child poverty. We propose:

a) Ensure that all Roma children who received canteen scholarships are guaranteed adequate food through food aid mechanisms, or failing that, through the monetary transfer to the family for their value, and that the resources available Public administrations to maintain school canteens also include Roma boys and girls.

b) Guarantee a minimum income benefit to all families that need it, expanding coverage, streamlining procedures and reducing the requirements for their concession.

c) Urgently implement the planned measures to increase the benefit for their dependent son or daughter, thus giving priority to families with dependent children and trying, as far as possible, to alleviate child poverty.

d) Suspending the payment of rent, mortgage and basic supplies (water, electricity and gas) to families in a precarious financial situation.

e) Streamline procedures so that the European Aid Fund for the Most Deprived (FEAD) reaches the families that need it the most to cover basic food and hygiene needs, especially in the most vulnerable contexts.

f) Implement extraordinary and urgent mechanisms, through Social Services and social entities that work with the most vulnerable families, to serve and inform these people about their rights, about the availability of aid and benefits, or how to act before cases of dismissals or work situations that may affect them due to their job insecurity.