Turkey’s government has launched a new program aimed at providing shelter to the country’s homeless as part of a wider scheme against the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 30,000 people, killing more than 650 in the country.
Turkey reported the first confirmed case on March 11 and has been taking a range of measures to take the spread of the coronavirus under control, such as partial curfew for certain age groups, closing non-essential stores and banning social and sports events.
Family, Labor and Social Services Minister Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk on April 7 announced the launch of the program designed to protect the homeless.
“We are kick-starting the Accommodation for Homeless Project which will be carried out in coordination with the local headquarters of the ministry in the country’s 81 provinces,” Selçuk said.
Under the newly launched project, authorities will locate homeless people and make sure that they are placed in public institutions’ guest houses. If this cannot be done, homeless people will be accommodated at hotels or hostels or a venue will be made available to homeless people to stay until the risks from the pandemic wane.
Selçuk also noted that during their stay at guest houses or any other venues, homeless people will receive regular health check-ups and they will be informed about the pandemic, how it transmits from person to person and hygiene rules.
According to the minister, during their stay at those designated shelters, homeless people will receive help for food, clothing and other basic needs. All expenses will be covered by the Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundation.
All these measures will be put into practice in the country’s 81 provinces as soon as possible, Selçuk said.
Çorbada Tuzun Olsun (ÇOTUM), an Istanbul-based non-governmental organization that helps homeless people, said in a recent report that homeless are among the social groups that are most vulnerable to epidemic diseases due to various reasons, including the lack of sanitary conditions and inadequate access to healthcare services.
The organization stressed that some 20 percent of homeless in Turkey suffer from lung diseases and breathing problems.
Hurriyet Daily News