In Senegal, over 8-hundred cases of the coronavirus have been reported. Nine people have also died from the disease, prompting the government to adapt strict measures to curb the spread.
This has affected vulnerable groups such as street children, who are struggling to find shelter, assistance and food.
Around 40-thousand street children in Senegal are at risk since government declared a state of emergency, over the COVID-19 pandemic in late March.
The minors suffer from poor sanitation and drug usage, exposing them further to the disease.
Social services are now increasing their capacity to accommodate them.
“They live in precarious hygiene conditions which increases the risk of contamination; they are not well informed about the health impacts so they are at a high risk and it is urgent to shelter them,” Beatrice Mariem Mendy, Interim Director, Samu Social Senegal.
“Since the start of the disease, the police have been mistreating us, they were slapping us. Then people from Village Pilote told us it could become harder in the near future because there could be a complete confinement order and that no one would be able to go out day or night, so because of that I decided to come here,” Senegalese street kid.
The homeless children are known as Talibes, youths from Koranic schools, who are forced to beg for money.
Others come from broken families or have lost their homes because of poverty.
“We go out to look for them almost everyday. We have stopped doing these rounds at the normal times because of the current situation, whereby the government put in place measures due to the state of emergency, such as a curfew and a ban on public gatherings,” Mariem adds.
Some of the children staying at the centres left to return to Dakar but were faced with a new reality.
Life has always been difficult for the children and with the expanding outbreak, they are now more vulnerable than ever.