Communication from the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary and his Deputies

Budapest, 26 March 2020 – Dr. Ákos Kozma, Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary; Dr. Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay, Deputy Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of Nationalities Living in Hungary and Dr. Gyula Bándi, Deputy Commissioner for the Protection of the Future Generations in Hungary issued a joint statement on the issues related to the vulnerable groups of society due to the circumstances brought about by the global pandemic.

The worsening epidemic situation in Hungary, its complex economic and social consequences and the related state measures are negatively impacting our daily lives, constraining us in multiple ways. We face challenges and losses that we have not encountered in the recent decades.

We all need to be aware, both state and non-governmental institutions and citizens, that there is a lack of preparedness among certain social groups to prevent, manage and cope with the health risks associated with the pandemic, and this is especially true for vulnerable people. The specific challenges stemming from the consequences of the epidemic – such as the lack of IT background for digital education, isolation, the loss of jobs and income opportunities resulting in financial difficulties and barriers to access to basic services – may lead to particularly difficult situations for financially vulnerable members of society.

It is without doubt that particularly vulnerable members of the population, including the elderly, the Roma, the sick, people with disabilities, the homeless and other existentially deprived people, among them children, are particularly affected. In the coming weeks and months families already encountering hardships in some regions of the country face additional extreme challenges related to food supply, hygiene, health, education and of other nature.

Therefore, we strongly urge everyone not to abandon the most deprived people, communities, in these exceptionally challenging times. The social and health care systems face a huge challenge. In addition to the continuous and targeted actions of state and municipal institutions entitled and obliged to act in times of emergency, civil initiatives of individuals and groups, donations from church communities and the involvement of local Roma nationality self-governments can only achieve their real aims with appropriate financial background, reasonable and professional organization and the provision of reliable information.

In light of the above the recent establishment of a special task force to coordinate the volunteering and donation activities represents a good practice in dealing with the emergency. We recommend that relevant policy makers consider setting up a task force to provide extraordinary protection and support to vulnerable groups, in particular to help disadvantaged children and their families, and we are ready to offer our expertise to this end.

We express our sincere appreciation and thanks to all public and non-governmental employees, health professionals, ecclesiastical persons, civil activists who work strenuously with patience, discipline and perseverance in order to fight the pandemic. In their work, they are considerate of everyone's health and life: their own, as well as that of our disadvantaged fellow human beings.

Together with our colleagues, we are constantly analysing the impact of the challenges posed by the emergency on everyone, with particular attention to members of vulnerable social groups.

 

Budapest, 26 March, 2020.

 

Dr. Ákos Kozma

Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary

 

 

Dr. Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay

Deputy Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of Nationalities Living in Hungary

Dr. Gyula Bándi

Deputy Commissioner for the Protection of the Future Generations in Hungary