Lockdown: Humanitarian groups call for more funds towards essential food items

CCFM radio presenter Francios Daniels standing in front of food parcels that are going to be given to the shack fire victims. While other stuff including clothes and blankets are behind him.(File, Unathi Obose)
CCFM radio presenter Francios Daniels standing in front of food parcels that are going to be given to the shack fire victims. While other stuff including clothes and blankets are behind him.(File, Unathi Obose)

Social activists and humanitarian groups have called on members of the public, businesses and the government to inject more funds towards essential food items during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are calling on charities, NPOs (non-profit organisations) and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to continue serving their communities. Please mobilise and work with local authorities, provincial and national government, and assist where you can in a coordinated way,” Operation SA's Yusuf Abramjee said.

Abramjee indicated that the level of desperation is heart-breaking. They have limited resources, and added that many communities continue to beg for food hampers.

“People are desperate. Many are going hungry and they are crying out for help. We are inundated with calls from across South Africa,” he said.

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Abramjee added that organisations, which were lending a helping hand, needed to be supported.

“We salute you. Continue serving in the true spirit of Ubuntu," he added.

Shauket Fakie, of the South African National Zakaat Fund (Sanzaf), said it was heart-warming to see volunteers and social partners assisting, adding that there was still a lot of work to be done. 

Operation SA and Sanzaf have partnered with the Gauteng Social Development Department and, through the partnership, have managed to deliver almost R4 million worth of aid since the lockdown began.

“As the loads arrive at the department’s central warehouse in Johannesburg, the aid leaves,” Fakie said.

The SA Muslim Covid-19 Response Task Team, represented by its numerous theological, civil society and community organisations across the country, have been at the forefront of the response.

"Over R7 million worth of aid has been jointly distributed by our partners already. We have been coordinating with national and provincial government and other stakeholders to ensure the needs of vulnerable families are met," Abramjee said in a statement. 

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NGOs have been encouraged to work together during this time. 

“Please, please continue to donate. We also calling again on companies, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors to donate essential food items, soaps and sanitisers," Abramjee said. 

He has also called on the government to “urgently” release funds from the Solidarity Fund for essential food supplies. If the government doesn't act now, he said, people may die of hunger. 

He further made a call to companies to make parking lots available and accessible, especially in CBDs, for the homeless to use during the period of the lockdown. 

“These parking arcades are empty. Many of the homeless are on fields in tents, like in Tshwane. The rain has made conditions very difficult. There is over-crowding and little social distancing. The covered parkades will be a good solution, Abramjee added.

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