It was an honor hosting Ms. Nesrine Metry, IVLP Alumna and Health Manager of the Refugee Program at Caritas Egypt, alongside Ms. Carmen Kcomt, Refugee Congress Delegate for California for such an eye-opening event about the impact of COVID-19 on refugees within Egypt and San Diego.
Ms. Metry opened the event by discussing various unforeseen challenges that a quarter million refugees residing in Egypt are facing through the pandemic including unemployment and limitations to accessible healthcare. With the escalating fear of the virus spreading, many refugees lost their jobs working in the informal labor market which led to a loss of income for their families. Despite these obstacles, Caritas Egypt collaborates with other organizations to continue to help these refugees by providing 3-month plan treatments, more affordable medicine, and programs to help deal with trauma from this pandemic. Although in a different country, Ms. Kcomt discussed similar challenges to refugees, asylum-seekers, and immigrants within the San Diego community. Specifically, shedding light on the broken immigration system where hundreds of people are held by ICE waiting in Detention Centers while lacking access to medical treatment. Ms. Kcomt explained that unemployment is also a main issue for refugees in San Diego as undocumented people cannot apply for unemployment benefits. The lack of income spirals into other issues such as inaccessibility to transportation, medication, and even food.
Ms. Metry and Ms. Kcomt concluded the event by informing the audience with ways to show solidarity and support to our communities specifically through education and community awareness. They both emphasized the importance of embracing the talents and skills of refugees to enhance our communities. At the end, Ms. Kcomt states, “Refugees aren’t taking something from us, they’re giving!”.