"Help is not on shutdown": S.V.S.G.

As Samoa went into a two-day lockdown for the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign, one of the essential social support service reminds the public that, “help is not on shutdown.” 

The announcement was made by non-government organisation, Samoa Victim Support Group in a public statement.

The country kicked off a two-day national COVID-19 mass vaccination program on Thursday morning in a bid to administer 30,000 AstraZeneca doses to eligible population members.

A Government-declared two-day lockdown went into effect at 8am Thursday morning with the streets of the capital Apia deserted and the police manning roadblocks to enforce the stay-home order.

According to the statement, the S.V.S.G. being an essential social support service is providing a 24-hour free Helpline: 8007874, shelter facilities and counseling for the abused and the distressed.

The group also revealed that it is anticipating an increase in callers to the Helpline during this lock down period.

“From experience during the lockdown early in 2020, child abuse increases as the parents and the children were locked down together at home,” reads the statement.

Furthermore, the S.V.S.G. said that intimate partner violence such as physical, psychological and sexual abuse increases as the lockdown had restricted the movement of women from their houses.

“S.V.S.G. statistics recorded a 20 per cent increase in domestic violence from 9 – 46 cases during the lockdown period in March 2020.

“As such, S.V.S.G. will remain on the alert to respond to our people’s call for assistance during the two-day lockdown; providing counseling support where relevant via the Helpline, while evacuating the victims and those at risk for shelter care, until the violent situations in their homes have been resolved.”

The S.V.S.G. Board Chair Georgina Lui also acknowledged the partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P.) Spotlight Initiative for supporting the response mechanisms of the S.V.S.G. that are currently in place to address gender based violence in the context of the pandemic.

“Thank you also to the long standing partnership with Digicel Samoa and Vodafone for supporting the free Help Line service to our wider community.

“Together, we can continue to look out for each other during these unprecedented times.”

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