An immediate food and shelter initiative is urgently needed! – Joint NGO Press Statement

We are extremely concerned at the increased number of alerts we are receiving from persons who do not have sufficient food for themselves and their families and who are about to be evicted because they are unable to pay rent. Many were at risk of poverty before the COVID-19 outbreak, but now the number of people requiring urgent and immediate assistance is increasing exponentially.

As people lose their jobs or have their wages cut, their ability to meet the most basic needs and those of their family members is being jeopardised. For some, these risks will be mitigated by Government’s support packages or by relying on support provided by social services, the community, family, friends, NGOs or the Church. Yet there are thousands of people who will not be able to receive this life-saving aid. They might not be aware of it or they could not be eligible for it. More worrying, it is becoming increasingly clear that there simply is not enough available aid to support Malta’s most vulnerable persons. We also note last week’s statement by 20 Church entities, expressing similar concerns.

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#KeepingUpWithTheInterns – Let us say thanks to health workers by staying home

I am young, hence the Coronavirus isn’t too dangerous for me…I am not too worried. I will still go out, but will be cautious not to touch contaminated places to minimise exposure. Staying in all this time bores me!

Why is staying at home an effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19?

It is a fact that if one is young and healthy, chances of death from this virus are low. However, let’s imagine the following scenario. You get sick and the estimate is that you will spread it to approximately three other people before symptoms manifest. The other three healthy people who were infected by you will each spread it to another three. The spread will continue until you manifest symptoms, quarantine yourself and stay at home. Throughout this initial period you may not feel anything but remember, you are still carrying it. You may spread it to vulnerable people and this could result in their death.

If you don’t stay home and get infected with COVID-19 from the outside, this could result in it spreading to the other family members you live with. Imagine if they are the vulnerable ones who followed the Government ‘s recommendations of quarantine. But yet you went out and brought it home!

There are several groups of vulnerable persons, including persons suffering from:

  • Chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes, blood pressure, cancer, etc.)
  • Respiratory problems (e.g. asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, etc.)
  • Low auto-immune system (e.g. multiple sclerosis, people undergoing chemotherapy treatments, etc.).

The elderly and pregnant women are also considered particularly vulnerable to the-virus.

I believe that not listening to instructions just because one is healthy and young is selfish and unfair for others.

Vulnerable persons deserve protection and each one of us plays a huge role by following quarantine and /self–quarantine, as required. Each one of us is precious. Let us all work together to overcome this crisis.

Hearts for health care workers

Shout out to all the doctors, nurses, volunteers, and health-care workers who are sacrificing their lives in order to save ours! Thank you for all the efforts you are doing. Thank you for staying till late for us. Thank you for taking care of us. Thank you for agreeing on not seeing your family just to keep them safe. Thank you!

Health-care workers deserve a thank you. But what type of thank you do they want to receive from us? Staying home and following their instructions is the biggest thank you they can receive from us. Let us help them overcome this crisis in a much quicker way so that they can be with their families. Stay at home, because this is the least thing we can do.

They stayed at work for us, let us stay at home for them.

Thank you so much guys and keep it up! This crisis will soon be over!

Rimaz Bitrou.

#KeepingUpWithTheInterns is part of our project Marginalised Persons as Human Rights Volunteers. If you want to follow Matthew and Rimaz as they navigate their way through Malta’s human rights landscape, subscribe to our News & Updates or follow them on our social media pages!

This project has been funded through the Voluntary Organisations Project Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector on behalf of Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sports and Voluntary Organisations within the Ministry for Education and Employment. This project/publication reflects the views only of the author, and the MEDE and the MCVS cannot be held responsible for the content or any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Our community is as healthy as all of its members – NGO Press Release on the human rights of migrants in the current epidemic

“COVID-19 is a test for our societies, and we are all learning and adapting as we respond to the virus. Human dignity and rights need to be front and centre in that effort, not an afterthought.”

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

It is appalling to hear Government talk of non-Maltese nationals without acknowledging their humanity and – in many cases – their vulnerability. Recent statements by the Economy Minister are, at best, extremely naive and, at worst, reveal a sheer lack of compassion and humanity. Thousands of non-Maltese men, women and children cannot be abandoned to a situation of absolute precarity. Their health and livelihood must be safeguarded in order to respect their dignity and also to prevent any threats to public health. When the nation is facing such challenging times, words of support and encouragement are far more productive than careless talk of unemployment and deportations. Under all circumstances our humanity and decency must prevail.

Over the past weeks it has become clear that the Coronavirus epidemic is going to have a severe economic impact resulting in large numbers of non-Maltese nationals losing their jobs almost overnight. If unmitigated, this large-scale and sudden unemployment will trigger a worrying chain of events that has the potential of ruining the lives of thousands of people. With migrants’ residence in Malta dependent on them holding a work permit, the immediate consequence of their job loss would be the withdrawal of their right to remain in Malta.

Migrants who until a few days ago were working, paying taxes and social security contributions, renting homes, attending classes and making Malta home will suddenly become “prohibited persons” under Malta’s immigration laws. As bluntly highlighted by the Economy Minister, this will mean one thing: returns to home countries and, possibly, detention and deportation.

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