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“Further steps to achieve social inclusion urgently needed in Moldova,” says UN expert on Extreme Poverty

CHISINAU (13 September 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda, today called* on the Moldovan authorities to adopt urgent measures to attain social inclusion in the country. “Inequality is an issue of deep concern to all people in Moldova”, she stressed at the end of her first fact-finding mission* to the country.

“Even small steps taken to strengthen social inclusion in Moldova will have a major impact on empowering the most disadvantaged in the country,” Ms. Sepúlveda said while recognizing the limited resources available and additional challenges imposed by the current global economic crisis. “I have noted that Moldova is committed to building a robust legal system and in recent years has adopted important legislation, yet more needs to be done to ensure their implementation”, added the Special Rapporteur.

The expert noted the efforts made by the Moldovan Government to boost economic growth and reduce poverty from almost 70% of the overall population in 2000 to 26% in 2004. However, she warned, after 2005 the economic growth and development models have not been shared by all members of society.

“There is a widening gap between urban and rural areas and some groups of the society still remain at the margin of social, political and economic processes,” she cautioned, drawing special attention to troubling rates of educational attainment in general mandatory education, with children in rural areas, children with disabilities and Romani children particularly affected.

“I am appalled by the conditions that persons with disabilities live in. I am extremely troubled by the practice of exclusion from society of persons with disabilities, in particular with mental disabilities without any serious effort to ensure their integration,” said Ms. Sepúlveda, who visited psychiatric hospitals and neuro-psychiatric residential institutions for persons with disabilities on both sides of the Nistru river.

The human rights expert called for a number of reform measures aimed at integrating persons with disabilities fully into the life of the community, including reform of the guardianship system and adoption of a comprehensive adult deinstitutionalization plan, in accordance with Moldova’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Special Rapporteur Sepúlveda visited a medical facility in the Briceni district – Pavlovca -- including tuberculosis and anti-addition wards. “The conditions in this institution constitute immediate threats to the life and health of its residents,” she said. “I urged its immediate closure.”

Ms. Sepúlveda also visited some Romani communities. The high levels of stigma and discrimination that exist against Roma are major barriers preventing them from lifting themselves out of poverty. She commended Moldova on introducing the body of Roma community mediators, but warned that “local authorities must ensure that the selection of mediators is carried out in full compliance with the human rights principles of transparency, meaningful and effective participation of the relevant communities, access to information and accountability.”

According to official data, poverty in rural areas is increasing. Life expectancy in Moldova is among the lowest in Europe, particularly for men, and in the past decade the gap in life expectancy between rural and urban areas has increased at an alarming rate. Major segments of the population lack access to adequate water and sanitation. The incidence of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis – particularly multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis – are very worrying, as are maternal mortality rates. There is a risk that 2015 Millennium Development Goals targets for both of these areas will not be met, in these areas as well as concerns the participation of women in public life.

During her week-long mission, the UN Special Rapporteur met with senior Government officials, donor agencies, international organizations, civil society and communities living in poverty in Chisinau, Balti, Drochia, Calarasi and Briceni districts, as well as Bender and Tiraspol on the left bank of the Nistru.

Ms. Sepúlveda will present a comprehensive report with her final findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014.

Magdalena Sepúlveda (Chile) was appointed the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in May 2008 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. She has extensive experience in economic, social and cultural rights and holds a PhD in international human rights law from Utrecht University. She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/SRExtremePovertyIndex.aspx

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13724&LangID=E

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Moldova: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/TPIndex.aspxhttp://www.ohchr.org/en/countries/enacaregion/pages/mdindex.aspx

Check the Special Rapporteur’s “Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty” (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx

For further information and media enquiries, please contact:
In Geneva (before the visit): Karima Jambulatova (+ 41 22 917 9763 / kjambulatova@ohchr.org)
In Chisinau (during the visit): Claude Cahn (+373 22 269 104 / (mobile): +373 685 75 155, claude.cahn@one.un.org) or Karima Jambulatova (+373 691 20 232, +41 79 201 0122 / kjambulatova@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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