UN agency donates COVID-19 PPE to shelter houses in South Africa

by MCR Correspondent
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The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC in South Africa has donated over personal protective equipment to shelter houses in South Africa.

The donation, which was made on Wednesday April 15, 2020, was extended to several Gauteng Province shelters for women who have suffered from gender-based violence and human trafficking, as well as to the immigration officers of the Department of Home Affairs.

Speaking at the hand over meeting held in Pretoria, the head of UNODC in the Southern Africa region, Ms. Zhuldyz Akisheva, said, “It was important that the United Nations should come to the aid of abused women and female victims of human trafficking living in shelters during these difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are glad that, as part of the United Nations family in South Africa. UNODC has managed to quickly react to the requests of our key national partners”.

The first delivery of personal protective supplies included 100 liters of sanitizers, 140 boxes of face masks and 170 boxes of medical gloves to UNODC partners working with vulnerable communities.

“This assistance was timely as shelters currently lack basic protection equipment. We cannot protect either our customers or workers who are available 24/7 to provide so much needed support. We are grateful to UN for giving us a helping hand during these times of difficulties,” said Ms. Rudo Mahusa, the Director of the Mali Martin Polokeng Centre.

“The goal of Mali Martin is to continue making a difference in the lives of people and families affected by violence. With the help of donations like yours, we will continue to see improvements in our programmes,” she added.

Other recipients of the personal protective supplies from UNODC included the Department of Home Affairs, whose deployed immigration officers will use the equipment in border operations as well as the Mercy House and Childline South Africa, two of some of the organizations that provide shelter to victims of GBV and human trafficking in Pretoria.

UNODC supports several shelter houses in dire need of assistance and this equipment will be used by patients and staff from the shelters. Despite an increase in the number of women facing violence during the coronavirus lockdown, shelter houses in Gauteng Province still have adequate capacity to provide more shelter to victims.

Mercy House is the only accredited trafficking in persons shelter in Pretoria. It provides shelter and basic comforts of life to survivors of domestic violence, victims of human trafficking and their children. The House ensures that women receive adequate professional care according to their needs and enables family reunification and rehabilitation where feasible. To date the shelter has accommodated 2,916 women and 500 children.

The Mali Martin Polokegong Centre is a shelter that provides safety, emergency and temporary accommodation to women and children who have been exposed to violence, including human trafficking. The Centre provides social services including security, counseling, medical and educational assistance while also providing empowerment skills through training, children programmes and social groups.

In the coming days, UNODC plans to deliver the same personal protective supplies to Thuthuzela Care Centres, including its branch in Durban and other shelters that support victims of gender-based violence.

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