Despite some aid, poor Colombians fall through cracks during coronavirus lockdownRecord ID: 1468599
- Title: Despite some aid, poor Colombians fall through cracks during coronavirus lockdown
- Date: 9th April 2020
- Summary: SOACHA, COLOMBIA (APRIL 8, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF RED CLOTH ON DOORS OUTSIDE HOMES RESIDENT SANDRA SIERRA WALKING TOWARDS HER HOME, GOING IN VARIOUS OF SIERRA'S SON STUDYING AT HOME VARIOUS OF SIERRA'S SON WORKING ON DRAWING OF NEW CORONAVIRUS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESIDENT SANDRA SIERRA, SAYING: ''We are placing red rags on doors because the aid hasn't reached us here, now we don't have food and my husband is out of work. I don't work either because of the situation we are going through." VARIOUS OF SIERRA MAKING BEDS TEDDY BEAR WEARING FACE MASK KEVIN STUDYING KEVIN USING OXYGEN PUMP (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESIDENT SANDRA SIERRA, SAYING: ''My son is low on defences. I haven't been able to give him even a piece of fish or chicken - he needs them. The sacrifice we have made during all these years can't collapse. I know I am in the hands of God. I am holding on to him and he won't let me go." GENERAL OF STREET IN SOACHA RED CLOTH ON DOOR OF HOUSE VARIOUS OF FAMILY INSIDE HOME (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVE, MARIO PALACIOS, SAYING: ''There are people here in the neighbourhood who live well, so the idea is that these people help the people who really need it, that's why they hang red rags.'' MAN TYING RED CLOTH OUTSIDE HOUSE GENERAL OF HOMES IN STREET RESIDENT HEIDY MESA LOOKING OUT FROM HOME WITH FAMILY (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESIDENT HEIDY MESA, SAYING: ''We hope they will have us in mind for groceries, a bit of help at least. We aren't asking for much, but a pound of rice could last two or three days." VARIOUS OF RED CLOTH OUTSIDE HOMES IN NEED (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESIDENT HEIDY MESA, SAYING: ''You can say that you respect (the quarantine), you can respect health, but what do you do about hunger? If no one comes and says (Spanish) 'Here, have some food' and no one helps us, then this won't happen only here. People all over will leave their homes in search for food and that is why people will start looting, looting from supermarkets, stealing everything.'' BLOCK OF FLATS RED CLOTH SEEN ON WINDOW VARIOUS OF COUNCIL WORKERS HANDING OUT FOOD CARDS FOR RESIDENTS IN NEED
- Keywords: Colombia Soacha aid food need new coronavirus red rag
- Reuters ID: LVA001C8RUSSN
- Location: SOACHA, COLOMBIA
- City: SOACHA, COLOMBIA
- Country: Colombia
- Duration: 00:03:36
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Sandra Sierra is praying for someone to bring her and her family food amid Colombia's coronavirus quarantine. Her teenage son Kevin is at higher risk of serious illness if infected with COVID-19, the respiratory ailment caused by the virus, which has killed at least 90,000 worldwide.
Kevin, 16, has obliterative bronchiolitis, which causes airway inflammation and means he is connected permanently to an oxygen tank.
The family is among many low-income Colombians who have yet to receive help from the government, despite promises no one would go hungry during the more than month-long lockdown and additional payments to those on welfare programs.
The quarantine, which restricts most people to outings for food shopping and financial transactions, is set to run until April 27. Colombia has more than 2,000 confirmed new coronavirus infections and 55 deaths.
"The aid hasn't reached us here, now we don't have food and my husband is out of work," said Sierra, 52, who herself is unable to work because of joint problems.
Her son, she said, "is low on defences. I haven't been able to give him even a piece of fish or chicken - he needs them."
Some people in the working-class satellite city of Soacha on the outskirts of Bogota have taken to hanging red cloth in their windows as a signal they need food and other necessities.
The hope is that neighbours who still have food will see it and share with those who do not, said Mario Palacios, a community representative for the La Maria neighbourhood.
Though the local government has distributed some groceries, it is not enough, he added.
The area is home to informal construction workers, people who sell food and candy on the street, those who clean windshields at stoplights in exchange for coins and people who collect recycling.
Many told Reuters they are not registered with any government welfare program.
Some 27% of people in Latin America's fourth-largest economy were living in poverty in 2018, while another 7.2% were indigent, according to the government statistics agency DANE.
National unemployment figures of more than 12% could worsen significantly because of the lockdown, economic analysts said.
Colombia has so far reported over 2,000 cases of the disease and 55 deaths.
''We hope they will have us in mind for groceries," said Heidy Mesa, who lives in a rented house with 14 people from various families, including five children. "We aren't asking for much, but a pound of rice could last two or three days."
There could be looting if people are not fed, Mesa said.
"You can say that you respect (the quarantine), you can respect health, but what do you do about hunger?," she asked.
(Production: Andres Rojas, Herbert Villarraga, Camilo Cohecha)
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