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Spain: Rough Sleepers Adjust to Life Under COVID-19-Enforced State of Emergency

Homeless people on the streets of Madrid are adjusting to life under the state of emergency decreed by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on March 15.

Defence Minister Margarita Robles has ordered increased efforts to help the homeless during the COVID-19 crisis, offering military housing to rough sleepers and asking members of the Emergency Military Unit (EMU) to ensure food supplies are made available to those without.

Between 120 and 150 homeless people had been attending the canteens located in the Malasana neighbourhood every day, but since March 11 they have stopped giving out hot meals and are instead delivering sandwiches in take-away bags.

Daniel Sevillano, a worker of the Santa Pontificia y Real Hermandad del Refugio soup kitchen, said on Monday that rough sleepers are people who “don’t have a place to fill a bottle of water, they seem to have accepted the problem, because they don’t protest, they don’t complain. They take what they are given, and they leave us. So, as long as the government doesn’t stop this [state of emergency], we have to try to help them in any way we can.”

According to the latest official figures, there are 2,772 homeless people living on the streets of Madrid.

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