In times of pandemic crisis such as COVID -19, it is often those already left behind that are put at even greater risk. Think about how the public health system plays out in a community with limited access to basic sanitation, or a crowded space like a shelter for victims of violence. Think about your home - your safest place – because for people experiencing domestic violence it is often the place where people are being exposed daily to an abuser.

To make things worse, those vulnerable people are faced with limited access to social and legal aid services, and partly functioning courts due to the pandemic. COVID-19 is likely to have a severe impact on people’s lives if institutions cannot be responsive. The impact of the outbreak could even decrease cohesion and further deepen inequalities if we do not act together as one. Under this threat and hardship situation, we cite and abide by the words of the UN Secretary General when he says “UNDP is always there when people need us most”.

UNDP Kosovo is keeping engaged with its partner institutions and the general public to put human rights and access to justice at the heart of all prevention and treatment efforts and support all communities and people who are most at risk under the pandemic situation. Jointly with our donors, we are supporting the institutions and mechanisms to effectively respond to the crisis and mitigate the potentially negative impact it may have on vulnerable populations. By supporting the courts, legal aid, and alternative dispute resolution services, we are helping Kosovo to ensure that the responses are timely, equitable and inclusive so that no one is left behind - the core principle of the SDGs.

Looking ahead, a period of hardship may be ahead of us, and vulnerable groups will need us now more than ever. The situation requires a collective response. So, let us all act together and not allow this situation to become a crisis of rights!

Authors: Ardian Latifaj, RoL Project Manager & Sihana Bina, NUNV with RoL Project

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