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Bosnian pensioners protest amid poverty claims

Around 10,000 pensioners from across Bosnia -- some receiving only €165 a month -- demonstrate in Sarajevo

25.10.2017
Bosnian pensioners protest amid poverty claims FILE PHOTO

By Talha Ozturk

BELGRADE, Serbia

Nearly 10,000 pensions in Bosnia on Wednesday gathered in Sarajevo, angry over low payments which organizers claim are leading to widespread poverty.

A protest took place in front of official buildings of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the two entities in Bosnia.

Organized under the slogan ‘End to injustice’, the Association of Retired Unions said thousands of senior citizens across the country were on the brink of poverty.

In addition to low payments, pensioners also said they had seen a deterioration in health and social security benefits.

"We want at least 10 percent raise"; “Only 5 percent raise in 5 years"; "Some in heaven, some in hell," read some of the placards, carried by the elderly protesters.

Mehmedalija Rapa, chair of the Association of Retired Union, said preparations for the protest began a long time ago.

"We do not deserve this treatment," Rapa added.

As the protest continued, some union representatives headed by Rapa entered the government building to meet Prime Minister of the Federation Fadil Novalic and Labor and Social Policy Minister Vesko Drljaca.

As the parties continued to negotiate, the pensioners from different cities began to disperse without incident.

The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has 410,000 retired people, 66 percent of whom live on a €165 ($195) monthly pension. The authorities last raised pensions in 2014.

The average EU pension ranged from €250 to €1,500 per month, according to Eurostat 2015 data.

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