The triple shock of pandemic, lockdown and economic collapse has rocked countries, communities and citizens around the world. Imagine the impact on refugees and migrants, caught in mid flight between their dangerous homes and less-than-welcoming destinations. The dramatic burning of what had been described as Europe’s largest refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece—probably started by desperate refugees—forced the spotlight back on the tragedy of refugees and migrants.
What is life like in a locked down refugee camp? How have closed borders and the forced focus of governments on their own citizens’ health affected migrants looking for safety for themselves and their children? If you are worried about finding your next meal and safe housing, can you really worry about masking, social distancing, and frequent hand washing?
On October 1, the Tällberg Foundation hosted a conversation about these and other questions with a group of invited participants. Contributors to the conversation: Myrto Xanthopoulou (who recently visited Lesbos on a fact finding mission for an NGO that works with refugees – see video, Bearing Witness), Mike Niconchuk (who works with refugees in the Za´atari camp in Jordan) and Becca Heller (who leads IRAP, the International Refugee Assistance Program, dealing with the legal rights of refugees and migrants worldwide). These three leaders have first hand experience working with refugees whose lives have been devastated by the pandemic, and who are working for better solutions.