#NOSEISOLO means 'You are not alone' | Photo: Facebook/APS Cambalache
#NOSEISOLO means 'You are not alone' | Photo: Facebook/APS Cambalache

The organization Cambalache wants to help refugees and migrants understand what Italian authorities are doing to fight the coronavirus outbreak. The campaign #NONSEISOLO provides them with information in different languages and a chance to connect.

Should I avoid shaking hands? What do I do if I have been in contact with a person who is infected? How can I cope with stress?

With videos and infographics in simple language, the campaign #NONSEISOLO ('You are not alone') provides health advice and information about the emergency measures taken due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

There are around 300,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Italy, many of whom do not speak Italian. "We wanted a campaign to help them in this difficult period, because a lot of them don't know what they have to do," said Ilaria Leccardi, who works for APS Cambalache, the non-profit organization behind the #NONSEISOLO campaign. 

Hotline for questions and advice

APS Cambalache is posting its content, written in simple English, French and Italian, on its website and Facebook page. It has also set up a WhatsApp account to assist and answer questions in Italian, English and French. It is available Monday through Friday from 11 am to 1 pm. The number is (+39) 351 0901647.

Cambalache, which is based in the northern Italian town of Alessandria, has had to suspend its regular activities which include trainings for refugees in beekeeping (the program is called "Bee my job") and awareness work in the area of psychological care for migrants with trauma. Due to the lockdown, Cambalache is offering online sessions instead. 

Many refugees, however, do not have access to a computer, Leccardi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "They have just their phones and sometimes four or five people look at the lessons together."

Other organizations that offer help

APS Cambalache is not the only organization that has stepped up its outreach. Other support groups such as Il Grande Colibri, which helps gay, bisexual and trans refugees and migrants, Camera a Sud and Arca di Noe, are also using videos to share essential information, Thomson Reuters reports.

Together they offer videos in around 30 languages about the virus and how to get help. NGOs however are worried that many asylum seekers are not getting the support they need via online channels. 

"The internet is not the best tool to support asylum seekers," said Ginevra Campaini, executive board member of the volunteer association Grande Colibri. 

"Many are isolated due to xenophobia and growing homophobia, and our meetings represent an important moment to build and maintain interpersonal bonds," she told Thomson Reuters.

Access to basic services

Camera a Sud, an organization in the Puglia region, has set up a mulilingual telephone service to help. Matteo Pagliara, the head of Camera a Sud, stressed that the biggest challenge is for this population "not to feel lonelier and more marginalised".

He said that in the current situation it is crucial to help those who have always had difficulties in accessing basic services like health care. This effort "can be decisive in winning the battle against Covid-19," he said.Highest death toll worldwide

Italy imposed a nationwide quarantine on March 9. That means that Italy's 60 million people are only allowed to travel for work, medical reasons or emergencies under an order that runs until April 3.

Most shops except pharmacies and food stores remain closed until March 25.

On Thursday March 19, Italy surpassed China for the most number of deaths related to Covid-19. More than 3,400 people have died and more than 41,030 cases have  recorded in Italy.

Most material from the Thomson Reuters Foundation


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