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Sunday, December 4, 2016
CAFOD to work in Serbia
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¬†The Catholic aid agency CAFOD, is providing £200,000 for humanitarian work with Roma refugees in Serbia. The money, which CAFOD secured from ECHO, the European Community Humanitarian Office, will be spent on improving the conditions of Roma people living in open-air settlements in and around Belgrade. Zoran Ilievski, CAFOD's project manager in Belgrade, said: "After ten years of war, Serbia now has one of the highest numbers of refugees and internally displaced people in Europe. With less than 10% of them working, most live in abject poverty and rely on humanitarian aid. The Roma people are at the bottom of the pile. The poor sanitation in their makeshift camps has caused widespread sickness especially amongst children and the elderly. This money will provide people with clean water and help restore their dignity." More than 80,000 Roma people fled to Serbia from Kosovo during and after the NATO bombing in 1999. Many were driven out of their homes by Albanian militants who accused them of supporting Serb aggression. Ignored by the Milosevic government and afraid to return to Kosovo, the Roma people are forced to rely on CAFOD and other agencies to survive. Jerome Piercy, CAFOD's programme manager for Eastern Europe, said: "People in the UK should remember that Serbia is not just a political news-story - it is also a human story. Ten years of war and sanctions have turned one of the most prosperous countries in Eastern Europe into one of the poorest. The country now has an economic position comparable to the Philippines and for a large percentage of the population, surviving grinding poverty is the main pre-occupation. "While the end of the Milosevic era has provided new hope, it will be a long time before this translates into an improved standard of living. In the short-term, life will become even harder as the government delivers the harsh medicine needed for economic recovery and as ever the poorest of the poor will suffer the most. The people of Serbia need unconditional aid to see them through the turbulent times ahead and CAFOD welcomes ECHO's recognition of this humanitarian need."
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