Covid-19 has been extremely tough on the vulnerable, especially the homeless, inmates, and refugees. With approximately 1.6 billion people not having adequate housing, over 10.5 million prisoners worldwide, 71 million displaced people, 26 million refugees, and 3.5 million asylum seekers, governments did not have the internal social benefit mechanisms to support the vulnerable.
The pressure on screening and testing for COVID-19 meant the vulnerable communities were left not have access to enough kits, causing the silent transmission to penetrate and cause havoc, and unfortunately, deaths.
Overcrowded prisons, lack of health care provision, compromised human rights, and extremely deficient food standards have left the vulnerable with heightened anxieties and untreated psychosocial ailments.
The incorporation of proper care for the homeless has been a challenge globally in these unprecedented times. Some countries restricted visitor movements and even created shelters in stadia and parks, equipped with screening and testing stations, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, the challenge to maintain social distancing and basic hygiene in these shelters has been ongoing.
As such, when the fires destroyed Greece's largest migrant camp, an overcrowded facility on the island of Lesbos, leaving nearly 13,000 people without shelter, it was heart-wrenching. Again, catastrophe struck when over 300,000 people were displaced because of the Beirut explosion, for no fault of theirs.
Some governments have been proactive in supporting the homeless. The Government of California allocated 150 million dollars to support them, UK assigned 3.2 million pounds and France 15 million euros. Food vouchers, providing temporary hotel rooms, creating temporary shelters were all part of the strategy to support the homeless during the lockdown.
All governments need to leveraging similar strategies. Limited resources should be no excuse not to provide the homeless with shelter, food, and healthcare access. We must remember all lives have equal value, even in a pandemic.