Chile activates Code Blue to help the homeless through the cold

SANTIAGO – The social development ministry declared Code Blue in the Metropolitan, Valparaíso, and Bio Bío regions. Social development minister Alfredo Moreno, after meeting with experts, decided to activate the protocol to help the homeless during the  sharp drop in temperatures.

Code Blue kicks in when Chile faces extremely cold episodes. It aims to help the economically most vulnerable sectors of society, especially the homeless. Under Code Blue, usually activated during temperatures of around 4ºC, the government sets up a shelter network, additional refuges, mobile attention units, and special transport in the Metropolitan region. The social development ministry highlights that the initiative also has a link and a phone number (800 104 777) set up under which citizens can provide information about those in need.

Karla Rubilar, superintendent of the metropolitan region, urged the population to advise on people who sleep rough. Rubilar also highlighted the government’s action as important considering the temperatures. “This kind of measures shows that Chile is taking the situation of the most vulnerable people as a social emergency,” Rubilar said.

The activation of Code Blue facilitated the supply of around 370 additional beds in the Metropolitan region, reaching around 1,300 for the emergency. Chile’s military is providing security for those who are sheltered, and helps to lift weights and people unable to move by themselves. “Working with the military has been very good. We have been in touch all the time, they have a good disposition. They are totally collaborative,” said Dominique Fuentes, who volunteered during the emergency.

Noche Digna (roughly, dignified night), implemented by the government since 2011, is another measure to help the homeless. But the Noche Digna measure has refuges open only during the night, while Code Blue is an extra effort that includes using churches or gyms a provisional shelters. Code Blue measures aim to get the homeless into shelters, and has mobile units distributing food and warm clothing to those who prefer to stay outside.

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