From: Alice Taylor
CoE Assists Albanian Minorities in Accessing COVID-19 Information in Their Own Language

The Council of Europe has noted the ‘difficult situation” for vulnerable groups and national minorities in Albania who face language barriers when trying to access information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press release, the CoE stated that governments are responsible for providing information necessary for the protection and promotion of rights, including the right to health and access to information during the pandemic, in minority languages.

To address this, the action on Promotion of Diversity and Equality in Albania under the joint EU/CoE “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey II, is supporting seven national minorities in Albania with translating a booklet entitled “Information on COVID-19 Virus”. The booklet was prepared by the Institute for Public Health and contains important information on COVID-19 safety measures, updates on government rules for everyday life, and more.

The booklets will be accessible online and will also be handed to Roma, Serbian, Bulgarian, Bosnian, Vlach, Greek and Macedonian minorities.

Last week, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet released a statement concerning human rights during the pandemic. In it, she referred to government guidelines created to help states ensure they are abiding by their obligations.

One such guideline refers to the state ensuring that “Sufficient information about emergency legislation and measures should be communicated swiftly and in all official languages of the State, as well as in as many other languages widely spoken in the country as possible.”

The Roma community were just one of those who had complained they did not have access to real-time information in their language.

Expatriates also struggled to keep up with the changing rules and requirements as embassies fell silent and many were unable to clearly translate the announcements that were released solely in the Albanian language.