EU Parliament becomes shelter for vulnerable women affected by COVID-19
Around 100 homeless women, many of whom were seeking refuge during lockdown because of domestic abuse, have been housed in a European Parliament building in Brussels in beginning of May.
The doors of the Helmut Kohl office building were opened to those displaced in the course of the crisis in Belgium. Each office now acts as a bedroom for two women. Meals and medical care is also provided at the facility – a joint venture between the Parliament and homelessness charity Samusocial.
Samusocial, which is running the makeshift refuge, is acting in response to rising levels of domestic abuse cases in the capital. Sébastien Roy, the director of Samusocial, told public broadcaster RTBF: “We’ve had many cases of women thrown on to the streets since the lockdown started, because of domestic violence, which is tending to increase.” He added that despite this, the future remained uncertain for homeless women when the lockdown was over, but that it afforded society the opportunity to improve its response to providing a safety net for its most vulnerable citizens.
Further emergency accommodation is being provided for homeless people in hotels around Brussels. Most of the European Parliament buildings are empty during the lockdown, as most MEPs attend sessions via video link. Only a few take to the chamber in person.
“I think this crisis should push all of us, the institutions included, to set a good example,” Parliament President David Sassoli said of the Helmut Kohl facility. The Parliament has also lent its kitchens to charities in order to provide around 1,000 meals a day to homeless people during the crisis.
Photo: European Parliament