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Web of the Street

Webinar in english

Violence perpetrated by the authorities on vulnerable populations during and after the coronavirus crisis

Webinar topic

Violence can take many forms. This webinar examined the different ways in which vulnerable populations have experienced violence during the pandemic and how they could be affected in the future.

Speakers – observations and key ideas expressed

Maria Jose Aldanas, UE – Bruxelles, Policy officer at  FEANTSA – European Federation of National Organisations Working with Homeless people

  • Recommendation that the status of street social workers is officially recognised in the country.
  • Improve the skills of street social workers through training and an appropriate law enabling them to work effectively.
  • Criminalisation of the homeless. Sanctions are not the solution; instead the housing issue needs to be addressed. Some police actions are the root cause of harassment, stigmatisation, and hate crime. Homeless people need to be protected from fines and sanctions, and should benefit from safe alternatives.
  • The government and the NGOs were highly creative in finding practical solutions and must continue in the same vein once lockdown is over.

Arlyne Fernandez, Philippines, Deputy Executive Director of Virlanie and coordinator of the Philippines’ national platform – DI-SWN

  • In Manilla, the government has distributed food and financial support because the population relies on the informal economy to earn a living. A real display of solidarity between the communities, from the public, NGOs, and the private sector.
  • Sharp increase in online child sex abuse because of the need to earn money.
  • The street social workers have found it difficult to work, get in contact with communities, and have had to draw on community leaders and social media.
  • Need to discuss alternative plans for pursuing our work on the streets and in low-income communities, with strict application of social distancing measures.

Valbona Hystuna, Greece, EU projects coordinator at ARSIS – Youth Support Centre and DI-SWN expert

  • The European and Greek authorities have not taken into consideration the fundamental needs of the migrants in the camps, and have not taken any special measures, which is causing tension, such as in the Moria refugee camp. The camp’s fate (destroyed by fire) was the outcome of the measures that were taken.
  • Exclusion of migrant children from education during lockdown was also a very serious issue, both in the camps and in towns. Distance learning tools were very difficult to access. The associations are doing their best to enable children to access remote learning, but their efforts fall well short of what is needed to help all the children.
  • Migrants were also restricted if they needed to go to the hospital because they were supposed to complete an online form if they wanted to go out. It was very difficult for them to access the form and they ran the risk of being fined while making their way to the hospital.

Ka Ming Wong, Hong Kong, social work supervisor Caritas Hong Kong – DI-SWN

  • Disadvantaged young people are contending with emotional distress caused by the social movement that broke out in Hong Kong in 2019.
  • The challenges of youth work given the fact that lessons are suspended, there is new legislation on gatherings of banned groups, and concerns about mental wellbeing against the backdrop of COVID-19.
  • Alternative approaches for street work: how can we still hope and rebuild trust between young people and society? Need for individual support, use online platforms to forge relationships, and provide consultations and advice. Community engagement: use social media and distribute PPE in the community.