Victims facing domestic violence during the coronavirus lockdown are being offered shelter in a Brussels hotel hired to provide relief to official refuges.
Francophone authorities hired a hotel in Brussels, whose address is being kept secret, which has a capacity for around 50 women, alone or with children.
The hotel has 25 rooms in total which can be outfitted with up to four beds and guests are also given access to a kitchen and a meeting room.
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With 50 rooms in total, the hotel was hired by authorities to provide an alternative housing solution "in case housing shelters or refuges become saturated," according to an official statement.
"The hotel received its first occupants this weekend. This place will give women a safe place providing them with comfort and psychosocial guidance by professionals," Barbara Trachte, leader of the Brussels' Francophone Community said on Monday.
Guests will have access to a kitchen and a meeting room and be provided with catering and other services as part of the initiative, the result of a collaboration with the CPAS social services centre in the municipality where the hotel is located.
The news comes as authorities in Brussels strive to keep an eye on domestic violence as the nationwide lockdown puts several households up for lengthy quarantines.
It also follows an appeal from the United Nations for governments to take action and "put women's safety first" as lockdown across the world could see women "trapped" with abusive partners.
"Over the past few weeks (...) we have seen a horrifying global surge in domestic violence," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video statement.
Information and resources for victims of sexual or domestic violence have been pooled together into Brussels' online platform for coronavirus, which includes a phone line available in 22 languages.
At a federal level, as the country's justice apparatus slows down as a result of the lockdown, the government said that domestic violence cases would not be postponed.
The Brussels Times