Romani Refugees Denied Access to Health Care in Serbia and Montenegro
11 March 2005
On October 18, 2004, Ms Seljveti Ramadani, a Romani refugee from Kosovo, testified to the ERRC, working in partnership with the Belgrade-based Minority Rights Center (MRC) in Belgrade, that employees of a hospital in Novi Beograd refused to treat her 3-month-old daughter on September 2, 2004. According to Ms Ramadani, on the day in question she brought her daughter, who was experiencing an earache, to the hospital in Block 45 and presented her refugee card to the nurse at the reception. The nurse reportedly asked to see the child's card, to which Ms Ramadani responded that the child did not have one. Ms Ramadani stated that the nurse then insisted that she pay 250 Serbian dinars (approximately 3 Euro) before a doctor would see her daughter. Ms Ramadani paid the fee.
During the same week, Ms Suzana Dugani, a Romani refugee from Kosovo, testified to the ERRC/MRC that her son had also been denied medical treatment at a hospital in Belgrade's Karaburma area. Ms Dugani stated that when she took her son, who had a cold, to the hospital, and showed her refugee card, a nurse told her, "Without documents, go home", because she did not have a document for the child.
Article 23 of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees states, "The Contracting States shall accord to refugees lawfully staying in their territory the same treatment with respect to public relief and assistance as is accorded to their nationals." Article 5 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) guarantees that all people the right to enjoy equally a range of fundamental rights, including access to public health and medical care.