Press Release

UN Human Rights Adviser launches study into impact of COVID-19 on human rights in Moldova

29 July 2021

  • UN Human Rights Adviser in Moldova has today launched a study into how the COVID-19 pandemic affected human rights in the country. The report, entitled “Impact of COVID-19 on Human Rights in the Republic of Moldova” and conducted on both banks of Nistru river, pays particular attention to the rights of the most vulnerable groups.

“The study illustrates that across every sphere of life, from health to economy, security to social protection, education to labour, and freedom of movement to freedom of expression, the challenges deepened through the pandemic. This study explains how vulnerabilities of marginalized groups were exacerbated, and importantly provides recommendations how to address some of these issues” said Simon Springett, UN Resident Coordinator in Moldova.

Access to healthcare became a particular concern, especially for older people, Roma and people with disabilities. During the first few months of the pandemic, over 60% of older people, including those with chronic and other illnesses requiring treatment, did not seek medical assistance for fear of getting infected with COVID-19. Disruption of healthcare provision, especially during the lockdown, resulted in people with disabilities having significantly less access to medical services than normal. Some 30% of Roma, in particular Roma women, did not have access to health services and medicine compared with some 10% of general population. Restrictions on movement had a great impact on the already limited access to goods and services for people with disabilities, those speaking Russian and other minority languages, and for those who are economically inactive. Furthermore, information on COVID-19 was not sufficiently available in a language common to Roma and other ethno-linguistic minorities, neither was the accessibility of information on COVID-19 ensured for persons with intellectual and sensory disabilities.

Despite efforts by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research, access to education was hampered, given the limited availability of laptops and other digital devices for students, especially in the case of Roma, children living in poverty and families with many children. Lack of information and communications technologies also led to the loss of jobs or reduced incomes.

The COVID-19 pandemic deepened pre-existing and vast structural inequalities in housing, with many people unable to pay their rent or mortgage. Inability to pay utility bills led to some people facing cuts to their water, electricity or telecommunications services. Many, especially Roma, people with disabilities, and people on low incomes had to sell household goods to meet their basic needs.

However, the authorities showed flexibility during the pandemic to ensure the social protection system could respond to the increased needs of vulnerable populations. The State budget for social protection was the only budget that continued to be increased throughout 2020. Nevertheless, people still faced limited accessibility of social services, as well as social insurance and social assistance payments.

Violence increased during the pandemic, including physical, psycho-emotional and economic violence against women and children, straining an already overloaded medical system. The heath system also struggled to adequately document the forensic side of cases of domestic violence.

“With all the tragedies that the pandemic has brought, the authorities should see the pandemic as an opportunity to strengthen their social protection, education and health services systems. It should be seen as a chance to change structures and practices that will allow for better access to social services by all, including those left behind or at risk of being left behind” said Bea Ferenci, Human Rights Adviser to the UN Country Team in Moldova. “Better addressing the needs of vulnerable groups and improving the human rights situation can accelerate progress in achieving the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda and its sustainable development goals, goals that will benefit all Moldovans” added Bea Ferenci.

UN Human Rights Adviser team in Moldova conducted a study applying a mixed methodology based on desk and quantitative reviews and analysis. The quantitative review included the analysis of data collected through publicly available statistical data and an opinion poll by the Centre of Sociological Researches and Marketing “CBS-AXA”, in December 2020. A total of 1005 people aged 18 – 60+ from the right bank of Nistru river participated in a phone survey, and 304 people from the left bank of Nistru river. In addition, 219 Roma were interviewed in-person. The period covered in the study is March to September 2020. The state authorities, as well as Civil Society Organizations, National Human Rights Institutions, development partners and UN Agencies were consulted as part of the study.

For more information and media requests, please contact:
Cristina Mardari, Programme Associate, UN Human Rights Moldova, cmardari@ohchr.org
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UN Human Rights Adviser launches study into impact of COVID-19 on human rights in Moldova

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Cristina Mardari

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