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Call for better protection and Covid-19 screening for homeless

Homeless in Brussels during coronavirus
16:13 17/04/2020

Belgium’s homeless organisations joined in an international appeal for solidarity and better protection for vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday.

Under the banner #ProtectTheUnhoused, local activists were united in their call for action in protecting, screening and re-housing  people on the street.

They included Infirmiers de rue/Straatverplegers, Médecins du Monde, Doctors Without Borders, the Samusocial, Citizen Support Platform for Refugees, Doucheflux and Bruss'Help.

“These men and women run a real risk of being contaminated by the virus. Their precarious living environment and often already very fragile physical conditions are aggravating risk factors. The lack of attention for this specific population can only worsen the epidemiological situation,” said a press announcement.

Despite the coronavirus security measures, homeless and migrant organisations in the country have been continuing to offer support.

Among local initiatives, the Brussels government has given €4 million to support the homeless during the crisis. Doctors Without Borders is set to open a triage and accommodation facility at Tour & Taxis for vulnerable people, jointly run with the Samusocial and the Citizen Support Platform for Refugees. This project aims to enable homeless people and migrants who think they are infected with coronavirus to self-isolate and receive medical attention.

Saint-Josse municipal swimming pool has opened its changing facilities for an hour in the morning for homeless people to wash. Etterbeek, Anderlecht, Forest and Saint-Gilles have each requisitioned a hotel to provide accommodation for the homeless.

Written by Sarah Crew