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Ready to help: refugees and asylum seekers help to defeat COVID-19

From the beginning of 2020, as soon as European countries faced challenges related to the rapid outbreak of the COVID-19, migrant, refugee and local communities joined forces to defeat the pandemic.
Despite untold challenges, adversities and high risk of contamination, refugees, asylum seekers, migrants launched initiatives or involved individually in various solidarity actions as providing help and volunteering in hospitals, cooking and delivering meals to medical staff, sewing masks or taking care of seniors.

Although media do not cover all stories,  we have noticed that…..

In Hungary, Adrija and Rahat worked as volunteers in Józsefváros (8th district of Budapest) and took care for their host community. 

In Spain about twenty refugees joined the staff of a Cáceres company to manage the Covid-19's medical waste.

Refugee and asylum seekers volunteer for hospitals, charities and accommodation centres in various European cities. In France refugees join an emergency roster set up by the Ministry of Health. Mohamed, who worked as a doctor in his home country of Libya, now support medical staff in hospital in France. He  said to UNHCR: “An epidemic can be stressful, but it’s nothing compared to war. I am not scared. I am ready to go anywhere in France to help”.  Also in Alençon, France, Syrian refugee families joined forces to cook meals for healthcare workers.

In Greece we know about Tamon Mark Andang Asonwe, who “travels to an elderly care facility where he dons a mask, gloves and does everything he can to keep the residents safe and their spirits high”.  
In Italy refugee and migrant communities donate to hospitals and the Civic Protection across the country. In addition to financial support, migrants and refugees express a great prove of solidarity. The message that followes donations is always the same: “we all are in this situation and we can face the challenge only by being together”.

In Poland refugee women from the Kobiety Wędrowne Foundation in Gdańsk  launched an initiate to sew facemasks. The idea was followed by migrants, asylum seekers and refugees  in various cities all over the country. 
In the Netherlands asylum seekers and refugees volunteer to prevent local communities from contamination cleaning public space, train stations, disinfecting shopping carts and baskets outside grocery stores. 
There are just few examples of great commitment and solidarity for refugee and migrant communities, but each story is inspirational and give examples for all of us to follow. 

Kseniya Homel
NIEM’s National Advocacy Officer
The European and Migration Policy Programme
Institute of Public Affairs

The refugees at the heart of the fight against COVID-19,  [25.04.2020].
Refugees cook meals for France’s frontline workers and the most vulnerable in the coronavirus crisis, [23.04.2020].
Using torture survival skills to cope during a pandemic, [05.05.2020].
Refugees offer medical experience to help tackle coronavirus crisis in France,[14.05.2020].