EU Watch

Coronavirus: NGOs and Philanthropists Stepping Up During the Pandemic

In Italy associations dedicated to taking care of victims in war zones, saving migrants and assisting other marginalised groups have mobilized.

by Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights
A field hospital in Cremona donated by the American NGO Samaritan's Purse

"29 year old Alba is doing never-ending shifts as a nurse on the Covid ward at the public Hospital Can Misses in Ibiza. When lives are at stake it doesn't matter if it's at sea or on land."

This is a post that appeared on the page of Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, which most people know for their work saving the lives of migrants in the Mediterranean. For some time now they have been working with their volunteers to support to doctors and nurses who are doing the impossible in Spain to cope with the spread of the coronavirus and save the lives of people who have been infected.

Solidarity from NGOs and volunteers

Alba and Proactiva Open Arms are a drop in the ocean of solidarity that has stirred thousands of people in these difficult weeks, an effort of which NGOs and philanthropists are an important part.

In Italy other associations dedicated to taking care of victims in war zones, saving migrants or assisting other marginalised groups have mobilised, especially in Lombardy, the region most severely affected by the spread of Covid-19. These associations include Emergency, Mediterranea Saving Humans (Mediterranea) and Medici Senza Frontiere.

Since March 9 Medici Senza Frontiere has been providing doctors and nurses in hospitals in Lodigiano, where the outbreak started in Italy. Emergency, on the other hand, has concentrated its activities in Bergamo where, along with other NGOs, it is working in a field hospital completely dedicated to the treatment of coronavirus patients, where the staff of the organisation manages the intensive and sub-intensive therapy department. Mediterranea, which has provided 130 doctors and nurses, has been particularly active in the province of Brescia.

CILD is recording activities its members are undertaking to fight the pandemic

These are only a few examples of the activities that, at this moment, non-governmental organisations are undertaking in this common battle. At CILD we have collated the activities that our members have engaged in on a page dedicated to the coronavirus emergency.

These activities range from psychological support, through fundraising to purchase personal protective equipment for general practitioners, to helplines for migrants or women who could be victims of violence. This is an initiative similar to that promoted by Action Aid through their ad hoc website Covid19Italia Help.

There has been no shortage of initiatives by foundations and other philanthropic bodies and, including those that we have come to know for the support they give to the most marginalised segments of the population, especially migrants, Roma people, and prisoners.

Italia Non Profit has mapped some of these donations, arriving at a sum of almost 500 million euros. The latest arrival, in order of time, is that of the Open Society Foundations, which wanted to donate one million euros to the city of Milan (the first of other initiatives that the foundation is setting up), to help the city to overcome the emergency. This is concrete help from those who have always been in the front line to defend the most vulnerable in every situation.

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