Serbia "reduced number of legally invisible citizens"

BELGRADE -- Serbia has managed to reduce the number of "legally invisible" citizens through increased activities of the government and civic sectors.

This was concluded at a meeting organized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"All surveys show that a majority of those who are not recorded in the birth registry are members of the Roma national minority who are also in need of social assistance," Assistant Minister of Justice and State Administration Jasmina Benmansur said.

However, she underscored that "the pace at which these persons manage to claim their rights has been significantly sped up since 2012, when the Ministry of Justice and State Administration, the UNHCR and Ombudsman of the Republic of Serbia signed an agreement of understanding".

UNHCR Representative Davor Rako noted that, according to estimates of the organization, there are around 8,500 people in Serbia who do not have personal documents, adding that the agreement is aimed at completely solving the issue by the end of 2015.

Representative of the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society Ivana Ćirković called on the Roma to engage in the process more actively, and warned that "ensuring that the Roma national minority can claim its rights is a very important issue on Serbia's EU path".