#LeaveNoOneBehind: European cities call for inclusive measures during COVID-19 crisis
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, fear and anxiety for contamination have led to acts of stigmatization and discrimination against people whose ethnicity, language or country were associated to the virus, in particular populations of Asian descent. At the same time, an increasing number of countries have imposed lockdowns and declared the state of emergency in order to restrict people’s movement and to slow the spread of the pandemic. Although these measures affect the daily and personal lives of many, their impact is heavier on vulnerable groups, such as refugees and migrants.
In order to draw attention on the intersectionality of racism and the consequences of the pandemic on different segments of the population, the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism – ECCAR has issued a declaration calling decision makers for an inclusive fight against COVID-19 that takes into consideration both the social and racial inequalities of our societies.
The virus itself does not draw differences between race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or class. But it reinforces and deepens the inequalities already existing in our societies. […] We call on decision makers to enact policies protecting from the virus and its many economic and social effects. […] It is […] of utmost importance to counter and condemn any racist narratives, conspiracy theories and attacks that have sprung up in the wake of the pandemic. […] Let us be aware of our differences and fight racism – even and especially in times of crisis. #LeaveNoOneBehind
Measures adopted to contrast its spread might disproportionally affect migrants and refugees’ health, education and economy. For instance, information on the virus and health services are less accessible to refugees and migrants due to language barriers and uneven distribution of health care.
The homeless and asylum seekers in refugee camps on European borders are unable to go into lockdown and adopt efficient social distancing measures imposed by governments. This makes them more exposed to the virus. Home schooling or smart working are not an option for those who do not have a computer and an internet connection at home. The number of migrants working in the service sector will not earn any income until restrictive measures to halt the pandemic will be lifted.
Now is the time to extend the solidarity which many citizens have shown in this time of crisis, and which has been a beacon of hope to many, to those who need it most.