Imagine losing everything on your way to Europe and suddenly facing a new crisis in your new home: you’ve just lost your job, have no internet to stay updated about the novel corona-virus and no friends or family to support you with food or medicine.

This is the situation in which some migrants have suddenly found themselves, according to Integra director Maria Pisani.

“One of our main concerns is the economic impact the outbreak has on migrants, including asylum seekers, as well as European or third country nationals who do not have relatives or friends they can rely on,” she said.

When people lack economic and social resources, they become more vulnerable

“When people lack economic and social resources, they become more vulnerable.

“This outbreak has really made us all understand a bit more what it means to be on your own and our response must be grounded in the principles of solidarity, equity and care, and not nationality or citizenship.”

Pisani flagged the impact of the outbreak on the mental well-being of people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders: migrants who have lost everything and their loved ones and are dealing with uncertainty and a crisis in their new home.

Difficult for non-Maltese speakers to keep up with daily updates

NGOs, like Integra, have stopped running face-to-face services and have also seen several of their interns returning home following the outbreak, so they are currently working with limited resources.

UNHCR has translated public health information into different languages and posters have been distributed among migrant communities.

Mohammed Hassan, a young man from Eritrea, has been helping out with translations and spreading World Health Organisation (WHO) warnings among the Eritrean and Ethiopian community through social media.

He believes the severity of the situation has not yet reached the migrant community, probably because of lack of access to information.

Video information sessions by health experts translated into different languages could probably send a clearer message, he added.

The Sudanese community was also keeping in touch via social media, with members spreading precautionary measures and updates through WhatsApp among others, Negmeldin Soliman told Times of Malta.

The young Sudanese noted it was difficult for non-Maltese speakers to keep up with daily updates: the community’s leaders accessed local media for an English translation, which they then translated for Sudanese migrants.

However, migrants who paid social security or were in regular employment were still unsure whether they qualified for the support and employment measures announced by the government in recent days, he said.

This increased the sense of uncertainty especially among those who had just been laid off and had no family or friends here, Soliman noted.

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