The COVID-19 Pandemic: A Time for Empathy and Solidarity

The novel coronavirus outbreak is a trying time for everyone, the more so for those on the margins of our societies, like migrants and refugees who are often the most vulnerable. As Pope Francis has reminded us, “we are in the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together.”

 

Take Care of Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to rely on trustworthy information. Please visit the World Health Organization’s website for the latest and authoritative information.

Here are two quick video reminders of basic hygiene measures and what type of symptoms you need to watch.

And here some useful tips about parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Safe Back to School Guide is a post-COVID resource that provides guidance for the reopening of schools and Child Friendly Spaces.

 

Resources for Religious Leaders and Faith Communities

Religious leaders and faith communities have a crucial role to play in overcoming the pandemic and the following guidelines will help them step up to that challenge. The World Health Organization’s Practical considerations and recommendations for religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19 address issues such as ensuring safe faith-based gatherings, ceremonies, and rituals when they do occur; countering violence and the incitement of hate; sharing accurate information and addressing misinformation, among other issues.

 

How the International Catholic Migration Commission Is Responding to COVID-19

  • The current global health crisis is having a significant impact on economic growth, social relationships and healthcare infrastructures. Its effect on refugees, migrants, and internally displaced people is even greater. In a webinar, ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo discussed this grave impact and explained how ICMC is addressing their particular concerns. Watch the webinar in its full length or abridged version

  • Today more than ever, ICMC is calling for solidarity and mutual care, says ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo. These values and principles, fundamental to most major faith traditions, provide a sure compass in the current crisis. Read May the Coronavirus Crisis Open Our Eyes and Hearts
  • Whenever possible, ICMC field offices are trying to maintain program activities, either on-site or remotely, depending on the constraints faced at every location. Learn How ICMC adapts its operations to COVID-19
  • ICMC continues to provide emergency shelter and cash assistance to refugee survivors of gender-based violence in Malaysia. Hotlines remain open, and counseling sessions are now held remotely. ICMC Malaysia has begun an online awareness-raising campaign to reach the refugee population it normally meets through door-to-door activities. Watch ICMC Malaysia's new animated videos on the dangers of child marriage and the consequences of negative gender stereotypes for girls and boys/women and men.

The safety of its staff is one of ICMC’s priorities amidst the crisis. A voluntary work-from-home policy has been enacted since 13 March to make sure all staff can take the necessary measures to ensure their safety and wellbeing.


ICMC Videos from the Field

As a medical doctor working in ICMC's basic health clinics in refugee villages in Pakistan, Dr. Maham Ali is on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19. The Afghan refugees she serves are jobless, live in overcrowded conditions, and have water and sanitation problems, among others. In this video, she explains how ICMC Pakistan is providing these vulnerable refugees with health care and information to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many refugees in Malaysia have lost their income and must turn to assistance from NGOs to meet their basic needs. Carmen Low, a member of ICMC staff in Malaysia,explains how the organization's Emergency Funding program helps keep refugee survivors of sexual and gender-based violence safe from abuse during the lockdown.

Dalia Alkhaldi works with vulnerable refugees at ICMC's office in Mafraq, Jordan. In this short video, she describes the challenges of assisting vulnerable refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic. She explains how ICMC has adapted its services to the lockdown situation and extended aid to cover the basic needs of severely affected refugee families.

 

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What ICMC Is Advocating For

  • Any COVID-19 vaccines to be developed over the coming months need to be made freely available to all people everywhere, urges a group of academic and health experts from around the world, including ICMC Secretary General Mosgr. Robert J. Vitillo. Learn why Vaccines Against COVID-19 Must Be Accessible to All
  • We are calling on governments to adopt an inclusive, non-discriminatory approach in order to deal effectively with the COVID-19 pandemic. Such an approach must make migrants’ and refugees’ safety, health and wellbeing primary concerns, while recognizing the role they play in facing the crisis. Learn more.
     
  • Mindful that the COVID-19 pandemic poses an additional threat to the wellbeing of unaccompanied migrant and refugee children living in dire conditions on the Greek islands, we are urging European governments to proceed with their relocation urgently. Learn more.
     
  • As the pandemic limits travel, labor shortages in Europe’s agricultural and food transformation sectors could jeopardize food security. These sectors are highly dependent on seasonal migrant workers. ICMC Europe and other civil society organizations call on leaders to consider this an opportunity to overhaul a broken system and replace it with a fairer food industry. Learn more.


ICMC in the Media

  • In these times of COVID-19 crisis, ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo reminds us of the importance of thinking of those on the margins and of reaching out to them. Watch the video.
     
  • Drawing on his experience fighting Ebola and the HIV pandemic, Msgr. Vitillo urges people to be wary of misinformation not founded on science, which can lead to the stigmatization of people affected by the virus. Read the story.
     
  • “Frequently, migrants and refugees have other health conditions that make them more vulnerable to [...] developing more serious consequences of this infection,” says Msgr. Vitillo. They also lack access to testing and treatment of COVID-19 and quarantine can be impossible in cramped camp settings. Watch the video.
     
  • Once created, COVID-19 vaccines and treatment must be available to all — including the poorest — as soon as possible, says Msgr. Vitillo. Religious leaders should be examples of non-discrimination in these difficult times, he adds. Watch the video.
     

Stories of Solidarity and Empathy

  • Bishops of Europe are calling on European countries to show solidarity and bring assistance to asylum-seekers attempting to cross the Meditarranean to flee violence. Read the story.
     
  • "Pope Francis teaches us that to live through these times, we need to employ and embody the ‘creativity of love’.” With these words, three Catholic bishops in the United States responded to an executive order halting immigration to the country. Read the story.
     
  • As India’s coronavirus lockdown jeopardizes migrant workers’ lives, ICMC members and partners have set up services to help them survive. Read about the work of ICMC's partner organizations in India, and of its member the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, as they provide life-saving assistance to internal migrant workers struck by the lockdown.
     
  • German Church Regrets the Suspension of the Humanitarian Admission Procedures Caused by COVID-19. Read the story.
     
  • Portugal grants temporary citizenship rights to migrants. Read the story.
     
  • Refugees provide freshly cooked meals for frontline staff in Ampang Hospital, Malaysia. Read the story.
     
  • Humanity will rise united from the pandemic-stricken world, Pope Francis says. Read the story.
     
  • Churches call for commitment to common European values amidst Covid-19. Read the story.


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