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An immediate food and shelter initiative is urgently needed!

Joint NGO press statement

We are extremely concerned at the increased number of alerts we are receiving from persons who do not have sufficient food for themselves and their families and who are about to be evicted because they are unable to pay rent. Many were at risk of poverty before the COVID-19 outbreak, but now the number of people requiring urgent and immediate assistance is increasing exponentially.

As people lose their jobs or have their wages cut, their ability to meet the most basic needs and those of their family members is being jeopardised. For some, these risks will be mitigated by Government’s support packages or by relying on support provided by social services, the community, family, friends, NGOs or the Church. Yet there are thousands of people who will not be able to receive this life-saving aid. They might not be aware of it or they could not be eligible for it. More worrying, it is becoming increasingly clear that there simply is not enough available aid to support Malta’s most vulnerable persons.

We also note last week’s statement by 20 Church entities, expressing similar concerns. Several impressive initiatives are being established or strengthened to provide wider community support to those facing these desperate challenges. Despite our limitations, exacerbated by the difficult economic climate, NGOs are stepping up to ensure as many people as possible live in dignity in these trying times. Our initiatives are supporting several groups: children in care, persons with mental health problems, migrants and refugees, survivors of domestic violence, the elderly, men and women involved in prostitution, persons with chronic medical conditions, and so many more. Yet we lack the resources to meet the escalating demand for food and shelter. We rely on voluntary contributions and simply do not have the infrastructure to have a much-needed national impact.

Whilst we remain committed to our mission to support human dignity, we also stress that it is the duty of the Government to ensure that nobody is reduced to poverty. In this regard, we are unclear as to what plans the Government is putting in place to meet this national emergency. No announcement of food stock-piling or distribution has been made. Little information is available explaining how existing social services and programmes are being strengthened or whether new initiatives are being established. We hope that the absence of information does not mean that no measures will be implemented for these vulnerable communities.

Without support, thousands of people will be pushed into poverty and homelessness. We are jointly urging the Government to implement an emergency food and shelter initiative that complements existing civil society initiatives targeting the growing number of people who are unable to provide food for themselves or for their families, and who are unable to pay rent.

We are also appealing to the nation to reach out and support those organisations providing invaluable community support in a spirit of solidarity.

2 April 2020 Statement of: 1. aditus foundation 2. African Media Association Malta 3. Alleanza kontra l-Faqar 4. Allied Rainbow Communities 5. Anti-Poverty Forum - Malta 6. Blue Door English 7. The Critical Institute 8. Cross Culture International Foundation. 9. Department of Inclusion and access to learning - Faculty of Education, University of Malta 10. Department of Youth & Community Studies - Faculty for Social Wellbeing, University of Malta 11. Faculty of Education - University of Malta 12. Foodbank Lifeline Foundation 13. Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants 14. Integra Foundation 15. Isles of the Left 16. Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta) 17. Kopin 18. Kunsill Nazzjonali taż-Żgħażagħ 19. LGBTI+ Gozo 20. Malta Emigrants’ Commission 21. Malta Humanist Association 22. Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement 23. Maltese Association of Psychiatry 24. Men Against Violence 25. Migrant Women Association Malta 26. Moviment Graffitti 27. OASI Foundation 28. Office of the Dean - Faculty for Social Wellbeing, University of Malta 29. Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta 30. Richmond Foundation 31. SOS Malta 32. Spark 15 33. St. Jeanne Antide Foundation (SJAF) 34. Sudanese Community in Malta 35. Victim Support Malta 36. Women’s Rights Foundation

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