Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
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Good news among the bleakness of the COVID-19 crisis

15 April 20200 comments

As the COVID-19 crisis sweeps the globe causing death, heartbreak and economic devastation, there are some inspiring stories emerging of selflessness, compassion and practical assistance that can’t help but restore one’s faith inhuman nature.


In a small resort east of Madrid, Venezuelan refugees and homeless people have replaced the tourists, business meetings and wedding parties that usually fill the premises.

The owner of the La Ciguena resort has turned the facility over to some of Madrid’s most vulnerable families, after he had to close the hotel because of the coronavirus outbreak sweeping through Spain.

Spain is in strict lockdown as it battles one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks. The country’s death toll has surpassed 18,000 with 174,000 cases.

Bars, restaurants and shops selling non-essential items are closed.

The resort is housing 12 families with children, around 65 people, most of them Venezuelan refugees. Although the staff have been temporarily laid off while the complex is shut to paying visitors, they come in to help voluntarily.

Families receive breakfast, lunch and dinner and come to the dining room, which overlooks a lake, in a staggered schedule so they can keep a distance of two meters between people.

“We thought, ‘What can we do, we have to do something’ and it took one second to offer,” Miguel Angel Carnero, the manager of the La Ciguena resort, told local media.


Asylum seekers and refugees in the small Dutch town of Ter Apel are volunteering to help keep local residents free from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The volunteers are disinfecting shopping carts and baskets outside Jumbo and Aldi grocery stores.

“We are cleaning trollies there because we do our best to keep people safe,” Syrian asylum seeker Dyar told local media.

He said local reaction to their volunteer efforts, often posted on social media, has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We help everyone and if I say the people, I mean all the people,” he said, adding that many of the volunteers come from Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Tajikistan.

Dutch and English-speaking supervisors help guide the teams to make sure everything runs smoothly with the locals.

The Netherlands has more than 27,000 cases and almost 3,000 deaths.


Refugees in a small German town are giving back to the community by sewing face masks for the elderly and at high risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.

The effort is being led by Babak Barz, an Iranian refugee who ran a sewing workshop in Tehran for six years.

“I thought, I have some experience with this kind of work, so I can also help,” Barz told local media.

Since late last month, Barz and his team, comprising mostly of refugees, have completed some 735 masks made from cloth.

The masks have been donated to a retirement home in Jueterbog, about 40 miles south of Berlin, and to the mayor of nearby Luckenwalde.

Germany has nearly 132,000 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and almost 3,500 deaths.


When Syrian refugee couple Talal and Ghazal Al-Tinawi, saw a decrease of orders at their Arabic food delivery service due to the COVID-19 in Sao Paulo, they found a way to contribute to mitigating the new virus transmission.

“We arrived in Brazil seven years ago and we are grateful to the Brazilians, who received us with arms wide open and always helped us with our needs. Now it’s time to give back with the best we have: our Arabic food to those in need, the elderly”, said Talal.

The couple made an effort to increase their production so that 300 packed lunches could be delivered to the elderly, who are among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.

“We went through a similar situation in Syria, when we could not get out of our home because of the war. Our lives were in danger and we left because there was no other choice. Knowing these difficulties, we posted an ad on our social media page about the donation and countless orders started to come in”, said Ghazal.

Brazil has more than 25,000 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and almost 1,600 deaths.


Libyan refugee Mohamed worked as a doctor and was training to become a surgeon until violence forced him to flee to France in 2016.

He has since passed the French language exams required to start the process of registering as a doctor and completed internships.

When the COVID-19 crisis began in France, he immediately registered on the emergency roster set up by the Ministry of Health to support medical staff in hospitals.

“I am ready to do anything to help. I can work in the emergency room in a hospital at any position. I can be an assistant nurse; I can help in giving information,” Mohamed said

“My dream is to work as a doctor. It’s my life. It’s my oxygen,” he said.

France has almost 103,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 15,000 reported deaths.


A local Syrian restaurant is sending food to a Lisbon hospital on the front lines of the battle against the COVID-9 virus.

The Tayybeh restaurant is the brainchild of a refugee couple who fled war-torn Syria years ago.

Since mid-March, Ramia Abdalghani and Alan Ghumim, both 36, have been offering free food to health workers fighting the pandemic in the capital.

The couple moved to Portugal four years ago but it was only last year, after a few other ventures, that they opened the restaurant in Lisbon, where they live with their two children.

They felt at home as soon as they landed in Portugal, he said, so when the coronavirus hit they wanted to do their bit to help their new community.

“When you flee a war, you feel the disaster but you also realise who is there for you,” Alan said. “So in all things we do here in Portugal we try to give back to the people who welcomed us with open arms.”

Portugal has almost 18,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 567 reported deaths.