Mr. Ilir Meta, President of the Republic of Albania
Mr. Edi Rama, Chairman of the Council of Ministers
Mr. Gramoz Ruci, Speaker of the Albanian Parliament
Mrs. Ogerta Manastirliu, Minister of Health and Chair of the National Council for the Rights and Protection of Children
Mrs. OltaXhaçka, Minister of Defence
Mrs. Anila Denaj, Minister of Finance
Tirana, 25 March 2020 - CRCA/ECPAT Albania through this open public statement, would like to call upon you, as high representatives of the state, to turn your attention and not forget at any moment children living in extreme poverty in Albania, who are isolated because of Covid-19.
There are at least 100,000 children living in Albania, who are not guaranteed a meal a day. According to the World Bank, at least 14% of the Albanian population lives in absolute poverty, which means that at least 400,000 people are exposed to its severe consequences, such as: lack of food, hunger, lack of sanitation, untreated diseases due to lack of medicines, etc. All of these people, especially children, are at risk of death because of hunger!
Since being quarantined, the families of the children living in absolute poverty, have had no opportunity to generate any income, which they often create it by working daily, seasonally or doing unregistered labour. Among many of these families, there are children belonging to minorities who have historically been victims of discrimination and social exclusion, who today double- suffer. Part of these families, there also those who now are homeless and live in tents because of the earthquake!
Quarantining our cities should not cause starvation to death of our children and their families! This is not only intolerable, but also punishable by all domestic laws and international conventions ratified by Albania. The Albanian Government is absolutely responsible for this!
We have followed with great interest the proposed measures by the Government. We are seriously concerned that the failure to consult these measures with civil society and the failure to launch a well-thought-out national program of assistance for the poor may render the proposed measures inappropriate or unable to save the lives of children, who are now seriously at risk of starvation and Covid-19!
Given this grim reality, CRCA/ECPAT Albania requires your commitment to act seriously and as rapidly as possible to undertake, inter alia, the following measures:
- Establish a National Register on children and families who are seriously at risk of hunger because of extreme poverty in Albania;
- Design and implement a National Food Support Programme as a short- and medium-term to assist with based-on-the-needs food and hygiene items for poor children and families identified at the Register;
- Provide direct support for local NGOs to initiate immediately social work, counselling, information share and empowerment services to treat cases of trauma from the disease, while prevent cases of violence and neglect of children, domestic violence etc.
You are still on time to react and implement these or other measures that could save lives but also empower the individuals for the future. Our call to you today is:
"Save the lives of poor children and their families in Albania"