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GIVEN THE PROGRESSION OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN FRANCE, THE RISK IS NOW PARTICULARLY HIGH FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE.
Among them, people living in the street or in precarious accommodation (makeshift camps, slums, social hotels, etc…) – alone, isolated, and often in poor health – are largely forgotten. First of all, because they are not necessarily aware of the danger of this virus. They are far from all the information shared on the news or social media and lack an access to the necessary knowledge to protect themselves. More importantly, they do not have direct access to water, hygiene and sanitation.
In the middle of a lockdown, when survival is a daily concern and access to water and basic needs are not guaranteed, the respect of the protective measures is compromised. All the vulnerable people and the people who help them must be protected, in the same way, and with the same opportunities as the rest of us.
In light of the emergency, Action Against Hunger joins the collective effort in the fight against the disease through its mission in France recently opened. As part of our actions, we plan to intervene in Paris and the Ile-de-France region in support of solidarity actors, already helping the most precarious. Given the increasing needs in France, our teams have been working in Paris since the end of 2019, in a dynamic of support and complementarity with associations and citizen groups.
“No one should be forgotten; it is necessary to continue our efforts to find a solution for all. We act together, everyone has a role to play, behind its computer and on the field”. – Hélène Quéau, France mission coordinator.
Today our main goal is to prevent the epidemic among the most vulnerable groups and to ensure access to the necessary hygienic conditions needed for their protection. Respecting these rules will help to protect volunteers who are currently understaffed due to the lockdown. Help should be accessible by all and without danger. The protection of individuals will also be achieved by providing access to information, especially with the creation of multilingual tools and through the distribution of means of protection, as well as raising awareness of risks and protectives gestures such as hand washing.
Every year across the world, Action Against Hunger raises awareness among more than 8.9 million people of the good hygiene practices to fight diseases. We have already faced similar sanitary emergencies, such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, or the cholera epidemic in Yemen and Haiti. These water, sanitation and hygiene interventions in numerous contexts give us a strong expertise level, which today enables us to assist other actors in France and thus ensure the continuity of their actions.
During this difficult period, we are working alongside many partners to ensure access to the basics needs for all. Nutrition and health have become a daily challenge for the most vulnerable with the lockdown and many services closed. As a food security expert around the world, our role is to help identify the needs to ensure optimal organization between all the actors and facilitate distributions. The associative network works twice as hard to help the ones who need it the most.
In that respect, we established a partnership with the foundation Armée du Salut (Salvation Army Foundation) and many other partners, from now on 1300 people receive a daily meal package. This number will increase in the coming days. In these times of crisis, we take into consideration stress management and the consequences it may have on the well-being of the beneficiaries and volunteers. Psychological support should be provided in this very particular situation.
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