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  • Emanuele Politi

Refugees overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic by building up community support

The COVID-19 pandemic represented an unprecedented challenge for many people and communities around the world. During this pandemic, however, it especially became evident that refugee and immigrant minorities disproportionately bore the brunt of the infection, experiencing cumulative stressors that piled over preexisting disadvantages and social exclusions.

We summarise in this report a community-based project with the three largest refugee communities in Brussels, aimed at a) understanding the main stressors experienced by refugees and migrants during the virus outbreak; b) identifying how to overcome the virus outbreak via social support and community building.

Based on our findings, we urge local authorities and service providers to a) address side effects of the pandemic in terms of lack of livelihood opportunities, access to labor market and housing problems among refugee communities; b) increase refugees’ social capital via the consolidation of bonding ties among refugees communities and bridging ties between refugee communities and Belgian society; c) consider the additional stressors experienced by individuals with precarious legal status or without residence permit; d) foster dialogue between established refugee representative groups and key institutional and organisational stakeholders.

UNHCR-Moving beyond covid report
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