Volunteers are being sought for a new project to help homeless people in Suwon, following rough sleepers’ eviction from Seoul Station.
PLUR volunteer group fears that more homeless people are beginning to sleep rough around the Suwon Station area following moves to clear them from the capital.
Homeless people sit outside Seoul Station on Tuesday. (kirsty Taylor)
Suwon resident and member of PLUR’s Help Your Seoul project helping homeless people in the capital, Oh Jung-chul, said: “After Seoul station, Yongsan, Yeongdeungpo and Suwon stations are the main areas where homeless people congregate. We are worried that more people will move to other areas when the police move them on from Seoul Station area.
“I do not have the exact statistics, but due to the policy mandated by Korail and the Seoul government, it is anticipated that the number of homeless in Suwon will increase one way or another.
“Now, when I walk through Suwon Station, I see many in need of help.”
Korail sparked outrage among humanitarian groups when it announced that it would ban rough sleepers from in and around Seoul Station.
The national railroad operator’s staff started forcibly clearing people from inside the station from Monday, saying that they had received 90 complaints about homeless people from passengers this year until June.
Korail also said that a passenger survey revealed that 75.2 percent of customers were in favor of banning rough sleepers from the station.
Around 300,000 people use the station every day, and charities estimate that about 300 homeless people live in and around the area.
The Seoul city government has said it will create 300 cleaning jobs for homeless people if they cooperate with the new policy. It also said it would build new shelters for homeless people and open a cafe that they can use to wash and stay in during the day.
However, humanitarian workers say that shelters around the station will not be enough to accommodate all the people that could be moved on.
Oh said that while Gyeonggi Province Government was also offing schemes to help homeless people sleeping at Suwon Station, more could be done to help. Oh wants to gather more foreign volunteers to work with a PLUR branch in Suwon to help people there too.
He wants to organize regular meet-ups to hand out bags of fruit, bread and soy milk, as PLUR volunteers do every Sunday in Seoul.
“I am looking for warm-hearted people who can give a few hours of their time every week to help others. I would love to cooperate with them if more people would step up and volunteer with me.”
To get involved, email Oh at email@example.com or call 010 8936-7864.
By Kirsty Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org)