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Coronavirus: What To Do For Talibé (Begging) Children?

Coronavirus: What can we do for talibé (begging) children?

They are said to be stronger than the average child, because of their resilience and the immunity that comes from living on the streets and in precarious conditions.

I don't mind them being immune to certain infections, and good for them. But are they immune to a mutant virus that poses a lot more uncertainty to our modern states than we have ever experienced?

Due to infectious diseases, I can never remember that economic powers such as the USA going as far as to close their airports to the whole of Europe. And I can never remember France closing schools, universities, bars and restaurants because of an epidemic flu, which President Macron is even considering using the army to enforce collective public health rules.

This is to say that what is happening is neither trivial nor entirely under control. And when it comes to situations like this, we can never do enough for our health and well-being as well as that of others.

This morning a colleague of mine said to me, and with good reason, that if the Presidents of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, etc. have decided to close schools and confine students, it is because the other children who are on the streets have nothing to do with it.  I think it is absolutely necessary to protect them from the risks associated with the spread of this virus. The interest is in twofold for our countries.

  1. They must be protected like any other citizen, especially the ones who are already experiencing real vulnerability. They should not be exposed to risky contacts if we know how quickly they are contagious and the precarious conditions in which these children live.
  2. It is in the interest of the whole population and of States that these children are not the essential carriers of the spread of the virus.

ISS-WA is working on a protection plan for these children for all the countries concerned in the region. This plan is inspired by the national strategic plans developed with each country on the occasion of the regional meeting on alternative care in May 2012 in Dakar.

The main lines of action will revolve around :

  • Self-protection of talibé children and young people: giving them the skills and necessary means to protect themselves in their current living environment (the street).
  • Remove them from risky/dangerous encounters that may put them in danger. To do this, it is necessary to
  • Identify and prepare alternative living spaces. Whether they are reception or transit centres, whether they are host families, whether they are transit cottages.
  • Start the process of their family reintegration and proceed with it as soon as the health situation allows it.

International Social Service has a great deal of experience in alternative care and is ready to collaborate with any government, agency or organization that has a real commitment to these populations to protect them from this global plague about which we are certain that we have no control... we do not have control!

Dr. Djibril FALL, Director of ISS-WA

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