Municipal Migrant & Refugee Sensitive COVID-19 Response & Recovery Efforts
As of March 2020, the Mayors Migration Council (MMC) has activated to arm city leaders and the international community with practical tools and resources for enhancing local efforts to address COVID-19 and ensure no one is left behind because of their immigration or refugee status. More information including the latest updates, upcoming and past relevant webinars from city network and international organizations, key messages for cities, a checklist of policy actions to take, and other resources on COVID are available on the MMC’s Inclusive City COVID-19 Response & Recovery page. For more information or to request additions to this guide email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feedback to this document has been incorporated from the UN Migration Agency (IOM), UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Rescue Committee, and others.
ACTION / POLICY
RESPONSE AND OUTREACH TARGETED AT MIGRANT AND REFUGEE COMMUNITIES
Anchorage, US providing dedicated corona response website with information in 10 languages.
Athens, Greene the Athens Coordination Centre for Migrant & Refugee issues (ACCMR) collects and shares addition Covid-19 related information for community workers and beneficiaries, as well, including: Updates from the national government in 6 languages; “Q & As about COVID-19” produced by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Greece in 7 languages (Arabic, English, Farsi, French, Somali, Sorani, Urdu); “FAQs for Migrants – Spread the News, Not the Virus” podcast series in 4 languages (Arabic, Farsi, English, French) produced by Solidarity Now in cooperation with pod.gr, the Greek podcast platform.
Atlanta, US providing dedicated coronavirus website in 10 languages (Arabic, Bosnia, Chinese (simplified), English, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Vietnamese).
Brno, Czech Republic providing information on the corona measures in 6 languages (Czech, English, and abridged versions in Russian, Romanian, Arabic and Vietnamese).
Brussels, Belgium public health flyer in 10 languages (English, French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Turkish and Arabic). Other information about actions taken by Brussels-Capital Region authorities, by civil society and by companies, is available in Dutch, French, and English.
Los Angeles, US providing dedicated corona response website with embedded Google Translate functionality.
Milan, Italy collected donations of personal computers and tablets to ensure that unaccompanied migrant children maintained equal access to education and Italian language classes. Additionally, the city developed an online platform with classes and educational materials for migrant and refugee adults, including professional training and up to date information on the pandemic.
New York City, US public education flyer and fact sheet available in 22 languages with confirmation of services available regardless of immigration or insurance status or ability to pay.
Nuremberg, Germany using “Integreat” a mobile guide for refugees and migrants to share COVID information. Integreat is a mobile guide for refugees and migrants, used by over 60 municipalities in Germany. The contents of the mobile guide, however, are tailored to local needs and contain local information. In response to the current COVID-19 situation, multilingual information has been added to the guide. The aim is to inform and educate all citizens as best as possible – regardless of their mother tongue and background. The mobile guide is for free and for Nuremberg currently available in seven languages (German, English, French, Arabic, Farsi, Russian and Amharic).
São Paulo, Brazil The Municipal Human Rights and Citizenship Secretariat created a step-by-step instruction guide, in several languages, in order to assist the immigrant population in the process of requesting emergency assistance provided by the Federal Government.
São Paulo, Brazil Municipal Education Secretariat created a collection of notebooks - Trails of Education - to continue education at home. To ensure equitable access for immigrant families, the City researched the most spoken languages among students enrolled at municipal schools in São Paulo, and, in partnership with the Municipal Human Rights and Citizenship Secretariat, 140 volunteers translated the notebooks that are now available in Spanish, English and French. The notebooks will help all families that do not speak Portuguese to transform the experience of being at home in a rich interaction between adults and children.
Stuttgart, Germany providing dedicated corona response website in 9 languages (German, English, Turkish, Arabic, Russian, Polish and Italian, as well as ‘plain language’ for those with comprehension difficulties and sign language).
Stuttgart, Germany The city website now includes video clips from refugees, for refugees explaining hygiene and behavioural measures to follow to contain the spread of the virus. Refugees have produced, on their own initiative, written information and explanatory video clips in seven languages.
Turku, Finland turned to Google Translator to make sure all 100 languages spoken in the city could be covered to get out useful information about the pandemic as quickly as possible via their dedicated COVID-19 webpage. Migrant organisations, large companies and the Regional State Administrative Agency have helped to spread the word about where to find this information.
Vienna, Austria addressing questions related to COVID-19 crisis in more than 20 languages. The civil servants working at Vienna's Municipal Department for "Integration and Diversity" will then conduct research in reliable sources and provide information in the preferred language, March 30.
Zurich, Switzerland organized several multilingual services to support migrants and refugees during the COVID crisis. This includes a centralized, multilingual and accessible internet platform run by the city to ensure immigrant and refugee communities in Zürich have access to information about the pandemic including access to support, city contacts, and general information in their own language. Additionally, since the beginning of the pandemic, the city organized telephone hotlines, WhatsApp channels, and published flyers in multiple languages for refugees with information on various issues related to the pandemic, for example how to correctly use a mask, new official measures, etc.
Round-up of multilingual resources from US sources (contains fact sheets, posters, multimedia, and links to live updates in multiple languages).
Church World Service collection of translated fact sheets on covering your cough and preventing the spread of disease in over a dozen languages, and has COVID-19 / Coronavirus Resources guide for refugees in the US.
International Rescue Committee (IRC) — public health flyers on what to do if you are feeling sick and when to seek medical attention in English, Arabic, Dari, Kinyarwanda, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Tigrinya (other languages forthcoming).
Targeted Information / Outreach
Athens, Greene the Athens Coordination Centre for Migrant & Refugee issues (ACCMR) created a public mapping of COVID-19 prevention and response services available to vulnerable groups – inclusive of migrants and refugees. Collecting information from 102 organizing working on the ground in Athens,the mapping shares an up to date list of services, activities, and best practices are described in both Greek and English and tracked in a live Google Sheet.
Atlanta, US Welcoming Atlanta Office issued a COVID-19 Resource Guide with information, services, and links for all residents regardless of immigration status or language they speak. Provides lists of services and benefits available on housing, utilities, food security and assistance, health, and victims of crime assistance.
Gdansk, Poland dedicated coronavirus website providing information in 7 languages (Українська мова, English, Deutsch, Русский язык, Português brasileiro, اللغة العربية). Confirmation that “diagnostics and treatment in case of suspicion of coronavirus are free of charge. Regardless of your country of origin, citizenship and whether you have insurance or not. In the case of coronavirus all citizens and foreigners have free medical care,” March 25.
Lima, Peru The Municipality enabled in its web portal an option for citizens who require access to the humanitarian transfer. This measure is aimed at those who are outside their usual domicile in the capital, as a consequence of the compulsory social isolation, decreed by the Central Government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our country. Lima will deliver the list of registered citizens to the National Institute of Civil Defense (Indeci), which will be in charge of organizing the transfer.
London, UK Information on COVID-19 for non-UK nationals, confirms that no charges apply for testing or treatment for COVID-19, including for anyone living in the UK without permission, and that no immigration checks are required for treatment.
Los Angeles, US Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs issued a collection of resources for migrants and refugees living in LA including COVID-19, public charge, food, health, education, workers’ rights, consumer rights, immigrant rights, housing, business, census — Mayor’s Office of Immigrant affairs COVID-19 Information and Resources for Immigrant / Refugee Angelenos
Lublin, Poland has a dedicated website for Coronavirus Practical information that includes information for foreigners and underage international students including, specific guidance for foreign students (April 10), phone and email legal advice for foreigners, continuation of the municipality’s Information Desk for Foreigners via phone and email. They also adapted their registration system for foreigners to be by mail or online, April 7.
Madrid, Spain — Emergencies and care for migrants and care for refugee and asylum social services remain open as an essential service that keeps municipal personnel on site.
Milan, Italy Social Policies Directorate produced a Report on irregular migrants during Covid-19 emergency, detailing what services they continue to offer and that primary services for cases of serious social exclusion continue to be guaranteed, despite the challenges on the municipality from COVID emergency response.
New York City, US issued a statement clarifying that the seeking or using medical treatment or preventive healthcare services related to COVID-19 will NOT be considered under the public charge rule by the US Government, even if the services are Medicaid-funded. Use of healthcare services will not impact your ability to apply for a green card, March 16.
New York City, US flyer “I’ve been affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19). What benefits might I be eligible for?”, April 2.
Portugal changes national policy to treat all migrants and asylum seekers currently living in Portugal as permanent residents during the coronavirus crisis starting March 30, including those still in the documentation process. Migrants required to provide evidence of an ongoing residency request before they can use the country’s health service, welfare system, bank accounts, and work and rental contracts.
Poznań, Poland dedicated website to provide foreigners with information on their COVID-19 response, available in Russian, English and Ukrainian, and a special phone helpline for Ukrainians.
San Diego, US Democratic city leaders urged immigrants and refugees to seek medical attention if warranted without fear of retribution. Confirmed that undocumented population has access to food from the San Diego Food Bank; free breakfast and lunches for children from public schools providing meals; unemployment insurance, paid family leave and disability if you or a family member is sick; workers compensation; and medical services.
São Paulo, Brazil Mayor Bruno Covas delivered a speech confirming municipal law gives the immigrants, regardless of status, the same rights as nationals within the city. Stating: “They have the same rights in relation to the basic food basket, use of the municipal hospital network, daycare for their children (even though it is closed now), but the municipal legislation established the same rights to any type of immigrant, regardless of their legal status. They can also search for assistance through the Reference and Service Center for Immigrants (CRAI)”, March 31.
São Paulo, Brazil Municipal Human Rights and Citizenship Secretariat, has been working on preventive actions and promoting access of the immigrant population to public services and policies, including those directly related to the contingency of the Covid-19 pandemic. The immigrant population continues to receive guidance and information on public health services, social assistance, education, migratory regularization, donations and social integration through the work of the Reference and Service Center for Immigrants. All the official information is provided in several languages, about prevention against Covid-19, as well as to avoid fake news that may lead to greater risks and spread of the disease. The City’s Municipal Immigrant Council, an advisory body of elected migrants and refugees continued operating through remote meetings and monitored the situation of immigrants in the city in the current context of the pandemic.
São Paulo, Brazil and UNHCR launched a joint Standard Operational Protocol to guide assistance to the transgender migrant and refugee community living in São Paulo City. Due to the current context of COVID-19, existing difficulties for the transgender migrant and refugee community are aggravated and causing increasing demands for access to social assistance services, including food aid. Because of that, the City has deemed it essential to encourage efforts to disseminate information and create safe spaces that aim to facilitate the protection that transgender refugees and migrants receive in the host countries.
Taipei, Taiwan Foreign migrant workers who have worked for 6 months, 18 months and 30 months are required to receive regular health examinations, but with the COVID-19 outbreak showing no signs of improvement, to prevent the risk of infection among migrant workers visiting hospitals, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) agreed to postpone the original health examination timetable by 3 months, so the migrant workers can receive their regular health examination after the outbreak has abated. Also, Taipei City changed the migrant worker departure verification procedure to telephone verification so that people do not have to venture out to complete the verification process. Furthermore, if the employment contract between the employer and migrant worker is still valid but the migrant worker decides to return to his/her country, the migrant worker departure verification should be conducted to ascertain the migrant worker’s intentions and protect their rights. Instead of the old approach of online reservation combined with visiting the service counter in person, to minimize gathering and enhance the public’s convenience during the outbreak, Taipei City began a telephone verification service on March 18, 2020. Taipei City processes approximately 2,000 departure verification cases, and the revised approach will be adjusted readily in response to the outbreak’s changing conditions.
DIRECT SERVICES WITH BENEFITS TO MIGRANT AND REFUGEE COMMUNITIES
Amman, Jordan the Greater Amman Municipality used municipal vehicles to distribute daily water and bread to vulnerable households, many of which are refugees, during the first few days of the city’s lockdown.
Anchorage, US school district providing breakfast and lunches to school kids and are planning to continue this into the summer.
Atlanta, US continuing provision free meals to all students who rely on them throughout the closure of schools.
Government of Colombia partnered with 47 municipalities to distribute free food to vulnerable groups, including the more than 1 million undocumented Venezulans living in Colombia. Working in partnership with the mayors offices and local NGOS, they distributed food to 200 thousand families, reaching close to a million vulnerable people.
Dusseldorf, Germany The ‘Refugees welcome in Düsseldorf’ initiative donated 50 bags of sweets to celebrate ‘Eid al-Fitr’, the religious festival of breaking the fast at the end of the month of Ramadan, to refugees in quarantine.
Freetown, Sierra Leone During the first days of lockdown, the Freetown City Council partnered with Catholic Relief Services, Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDURP), the Centre of Dialogue on Human Settlement and Poverty Alleviation (CODOHSAPA), and CARITAS Freetown to provide food vouchers to 35,000 vulnerable persons, reaching 25% of the 140,000 persons living in the ten most vulnerable informal settlements.
Freetown, Sierra Leone As a longer-term resilience effort to combat food insecurity, the Freetown City Council (FCC) Plan will also work to expand urban farming. They will provide seeds and equipment and offer training to communities in informal settlements. Youth groups will be coordinated by FCC staff to support these new urban farmers..NEW
Kampala, Uganda the Lord Mayor donated 1,000kg of maize flour and 600kg of rice to Kibuli Mosque and was expected to distribute more foodstuff to other religions. Following opposition from the central government, Mr Lukwago has, however, changed his strategy. The Lord Mayor said he has resorted to distributing food himself, especially to residents in his area who cannot afford a meal, April 8.
Kerala, India opened Community Kitchens to ensure food supply for those who are helpless during curfew and lock down including people in observation, and provided one month free ration of grains, cereals, pulses, sugar, tea etc. for every single family March 31.
Lisbon, Portugal — Students from public schools will continue to receive meals for breakfast, lunch and snacks, during the entire suspension of school activities (applies to students in levels A, B and SEN-special education needs / school social action), March 27.
Los Angeles, US established grab and go sites for school children in the school district in partnership with the Red Cross which has volunteers.
Madrid, Spain providing 500 meals a day are being delivered to minors, aimed at children who have scholarships and families with socioeconomic difficulties, as well as food delivery services for the elderly.
Milan, Italy established food distribution hubs near high-poverty areas.
Montreal, Canada requested municipal staff who cannot telework to volunteer at food banks to compensate for volunteers now staying home.
New York City, US providing 3 free meals/day to all New Yorkers distributed through 400 sites, no registration, ID or documentation required for pick up (pick up all 3 meals at once, halal and vegetarian options). This is an expansion of a program that was originally just for students under 18, April 3.
Poland permitted foreigners will receive social assistance on the same terms as Polish citizens, such as food aid provided under the EU Operational Programme Food Assistance. Permitted foreigners include: EU citizens, and those with permanent residence permit, refugee status, subsidiary protection, humanitarian residence permit, or tolerated stay permit.
São Paulo, Brazil City Hall investing R$ 1,7 million to hire civil society organizations and up to 500 women to produce 180,000 meals for people in situations of vulnerability. The city launched the project sponsored by the Labor Prosecution Service, the University of Campinas and the International Labor Organization, for the production of meals by refugees and immigrants for distribution to families in situations of vulnerability in the north and south regions of the city. The "Connect the Dots" Project (Projeto Ligue os Pontos, in Portuguese) , an initiative of São Paulo City Hall, helped this other project by identifying rural producers with sales difficulties of organic or agricultural products, and connected them with the production of the meals. The food products are distributed to kitchens where historically excluded groups, including marginalized women, transgenders, refugees and immigrants, work, after being properly trained in the preparation of meals. Income generation is also present in the cooks' clothes, since their uniforms and masks are produced by refugees - many of whom were rescued of slave labor. The menu, which changes daily, was designed by famous chef Paola Carosella and deploys flavors and spices from different nationalities. The meals are destined for communities in vulnerable situations and since June 16th, around 1,000 meals have been distributed daily. The project is expected to last for two more months and its financial resources come from the application of labor fines by the Prosecution Service.
São Paulo, Brazil expands food voucher program for students from 350,000 to 600,000 students entitled to receive aid in substitution of school meals. The additional investment planned for this phase is BRL 33.3 million. The new food vouchers arrive directly at the students' home or can be sent to the school where the student is enrolled.
São Paulo City Hall partners with the Sate of Sao Paulo in food vouchers "Bom Prato" ("Good Plate", in english) program In total, 8,000 vouchers will be delivered in the city, giving the right to three daily meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The distribution has the purpose of guaranteeing food security for people in vulnerable situations. Only those people who are not included in the municipal social assistance network can be contemplated by the initiative, since the social assistance shelters already provide meals for their users. Currently, there are about 12,000 people in these conditions. The initiative is expected to last until July 31st and may be extended as long as the state of public calamity continues in the city due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
São Paulo, Brazil City Hall’s Cooking for Life Project (Projeto Cozinhando pela Vida, in Portuguese) delivers meals to people in vulnerable situations in the central and northwest regions of the city. Starting on July 1st, about 600 meals (300 at lunch and 300 at dinner) were distributed free of charge every day in strategic points of the city. The program will continue to run in the coming months and is expected to deliver more than 150,000 meals. Cooking for Life focuses on food security and income generation, helping cooks to continue working in the preparation of meals.
São Paulo, Brazil To maximize community efforts, the City launched a Solidary City Program (Programa Cidade Solidária, in Portuguese) in partnership with business and civil society to promote volunteerism and donations to support families in situations of extreme vulnerability. On July 11, 2020 Solidary City Program collected 1 ton of goods including food, cleaning materials, and personal hygiene products. Between April 7-July 18, the Program delivered more than 973,000 basic food baskets and 455,000 hygiene and cleaning kits. As of July 7, they received more than R$486,000 in cash donations. Drop of donations occurs through a no-contract drive through system at locations across the city.
Eviction and Rent Relief
Alaska, US the Governor suspended eviction hearings and prohibited evicting people with COVID.
Atlanta, US issued an Executive Order imposing a moratorium on residential evictions and filings for a period of sixty (60) days effective March 17.
Barcelona, Spain issued a moratorium on rent for properties (housing and commercial) managed by Barcelona Municipal Housing and Rehabilitation Institute. For three months, a total of 12,000 tenants will not have to pay for their accommodation or commercial premises. When rent collection resumes, tenants will make up for these months by paying slightly more rent each month until December. In order to tackle this package of measures, the City Council has enabled an extraordinary item of €3.5 million in the municipal budget, which can be extended up to €5.5 million.
Lisbon, Portugal moratorium on rent until June 30 for all the municipal dwellings (with payment phased in over the next 18 months); all the commercial establishments located on municipal spaces that are closed; all social, cultural, sporting or recreational institutions installed on municipal venues.
Los Angeles, US eviction moratorium for non-payment of rent for tenants who are unable to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic during the time local state of emergency is in effect, March 15. Issued emergency order suspending new rental increases on any of the 624K+ units that fall under the City’s rent stabilization ordinance, or RSO. During this emergency period, RSO tenants will not be subject to any new rent increase, March 30.
Anchorage, US the city has set up sites to house with the goal of getting them into stable housing and is utilizing sports arenas and stadiums to shelter people experiencing homeless.
Barcelona, Spain opening 200 tourist apartments to accommodate vulnerable families whose homes do not meet the conditions to endure confinement; utilizing one pavilion of Fira de Barcelona in Montjuïc for homeless people and emergencies, which can initially accommodate 150 people; and opening three new centers to reinforce the equipment for people experiencing homelessness.
Bristol, UK City Council made an urgent call to hoteliers, B&Bs, Airbnb owners and student housing providers o March 23 to come forward to offer accommodation to house the city’s homeless during the coronavirus. The city took more than 300 homeless people into emergency accommodation. Within this group was a number of migrants with ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ status, which prevents them from accessing mainstream state support. Bristol therefore set up a ‘One City Taskforce’ made up of representatives from Local Government, civil society and others to identify the necessary support and longer term pathways for everyone in emergency accommodation, including migrants and those seeking asylum.
Brno, Czech Republic handing our face masks for free to people experiencing homelessness. The city has set up a container to collect used masks which are disinfected and then given out again.
Brussels, Belgium Regional authorities secured two hotels in Brussels with a combined capacity of 220 spaces to host migrants who do not have access to official or associative housing services.
California, US launches initiative to place homeless people in hotel and motel rooms around the state in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA and California counties have identified 6,867 rooms that are now in state possession, and they're looking to identify up to 15,000 rooms in total as an initial goal. The "Project Roomkey" initiative is the first of its kind in the nation, in which the federal agency would reimburse state and local governments up to 75 percent of the costs of the rooms, including services such as meals and security and custodial services, for the next three months, April 4.
Groningen, The Netherlands. The City established an emergency shelter – mainly driven from the national level but with support from the Municipality of Het Hogeland – for foreign nationals arriving in the Netherlands that no longer have access to asylum procedures.
Kerala, India Homeless people were listed and moved them to nearest temporary shelters and ensured food and medicines, March 31.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia More than 500 people experiencing homelssless were placed into shelters. 14 homeless hotspots were identified such as at Masjid Negara, Kotaraya and Central Market areas, Menara Maybank, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Masjid India, Jalan Tiong Nam, Masjid Jamek, KL Sentral, Jalan Silang, Pudu Sentral, Bangkok Bank, Briekfields and several wet markets in the city. The homeless community consist of foreigners, those who were abandoned by their families, people who were sick, poor, those suffering from mental illness, drug addicts, alcoholics and former prisoners. At first, they have been placed in shelters at Sentul Perdana Community Centre, Tasik Ampang Hilir Community Hall, Setiawangsa Community Hall, Alam Damai multi-purpose hall in Cheras.
Lisbon, Portugal opened 2 new quarantine shelters for people experiencing homelessness, March 27.
London, UK secured 300 hotel rooms for rough sleepers to self isolate, working with the central government and Intercontinental Hotels Group to block-book the rooms in two London hotels for the next 12 weeks, March 21.
Los Angeles, US converted 42 community centers into temporary shelters for 1,000-5,000 of the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness and is turning to hotels to help house 30,000 people experiencing homelessness.
Madrid, Spain set up a hotel in Arganda del Rey and a hostel in Chamberí to serve asylum seekers and homeless people without symptoms. Those who present symptoms of illness will be transferred to the Villa de Vallecas asylum seekers centre and the Juan Luis Vives homeless centre in Vicálvaro, except when needing hospital admission. Also extending winter campaign to provide shelter for two additional months until May 31 to protect the homeless, providing 479 places.
Milan, Italy is partnering with a local nonprofits coordinated through Farsi Prossimo Cooperative to provide COVID-19 monitoring shelters for homeless people and unaccompanied migrant youth as part of the “Service Centre for Unaccompanied Migrant Minors” (SIPROIMI, formerly SPRAR).
Odemira, Portugal creating 500 quarantine places for foreign agricultural workers, including sanitation services and possibilities to organize meals.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil utilizing 400 vacant hotel rooms for elderly people and pregnant women on the streets (partnership with the State Government).
São Paulo, Brazil created eight new reception centers, open 24 hours a day, to accommodate homeless people, totaling 680 new vacancies. Another 400 vacancies will be created using the Unified Education Centers (CEUs - Centros de Educação Unificados, in Portuguese) spaces.
São Paulo, Brazil subsidizes 500 hotel rooms for people experiencing homelessness. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included and will take place in turns, to respect social distancing and to avoid agglomerations. The service will also include the change of bed sheets and bath linen, hygiene items and cleaning of the accommodations. The municipal social assistance team will closely accompany the elderly people staying at the hotels.
São Paulo, Brazil books additional 100 hotel rooms to expand social protection to homeless elderly people, guaranteeing physical distance conditions. The rooms are destined for the elderly who are in conditions of greater autonomy for self-care, identified by the social assistance teams. The hotels offer meals, cleaning and room maintenance services, and the room rate will be paid by São Paulo City Hall (per night and per person).
São Paulo, Brazil transforms a Municipal Sport Center to a temporary Emergency Shelter Center to take care of elderly and disabled people who are in extreme vulnerability on the streets. 200 people can be welcomed to stay in the two available dormitories, where food, hygiene kits and social assistance are offered by the City Hall.
Stuttgart, Germany is creating 300+ places for accommodation and care as a precautionary measure in partnership with the German Red Cross, with refugees and homeless people being the first target users, March 27.
Emergency Funds / Cash Assistance
Anchorage, US United Way partnered with a family foundation and the Alaska Community Foundation to set up a fund to assist residents and families in need. The Alaska Institute for Justice is likewise setting up a Go Fund Me site to assist families who are not eligible for government relief.
Atlanta, US issued an Executive Order creating a $7 million emergency fund. The resources are designated to fund emergency assistance to food programs for children and seniors, homeless preparedness, support to small businesses, assistance to hourly wage earners and other areas adversely impacted by COVID-19.
Bogotá, Colombia created an online fund to support 500,000 families living in poverty and vulnerability with a basic income for their livelihood during quarantine. The Mayor's Office will provide funding to guarantee the livelihood of 350,000 families and is seeking public donations to reach another 150,000 vulnerable families.
Bristol, UK supporting a civil society run Corona Response Fund to solicit donations; registering those who want to volunteer online for future mobilization
District of Columbia, US Events DC — the official convention and sports authority for the District — will distribute $15 million to help hospitality and service workers, restaurateurs and undocumented immigrants who were left out of a Distrct and federal relief packages, April 9.
Dusseldorf, Germany established an aid fund for local companies to bridge financial distress caused by the coronavirus. The fund includes €500,000, with a maximum of €5,000 per company. This serves as interim aid before the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Federal Government offer concrete services for businesses.
Freetown, Sierra Leone As of April, the Freetown City Council was working with the National Coalition for Social Action (NACSA) to implement direct cash transfers, with support from the World Bank and others. These restricted unconditional cash transfers are targeted to reach 19,000 people who both work in the informal sector and live in informal settlements.
Los Angeles, US Mayor created an Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund and pledged to reach $25million in support for families and small businesses, relief for health care workers, health equipment, services for the unhoused, research. In addition, the City of Los Angeles established a new, innovative direct cash assistance program — the Angeleno Card — for residents who fall below the poverty line and do not qualify for other federal aid that excludes undocumented immigrants and informal sector workers. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office, and the nonprofit the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, fundraised $20M from the private sector, philanthropy and individuals to distribute directly to residents. Families are able to apply for no-fee prepaid debit cards starting the week of March 30, which will be distributed at designated Community Centers. The public can send donations to the fund and campaign online or via text message.
Kerala, India 2months welfare pensions for senior citizens, widows, differently abled, farmers, artisans, etc.; Rs.2000 as interest free loan through Women Self Help Groups, Rs.5000 per each ward for initiating hand wash units (water tank, wash basin, soap), March 31.
Lisbon, Portugal increasing the Social Emergency Fund in the amount of € 25M targeted to families, social institutions and to the procurement of goods, services and equipment that become necessary in this emergency.
Milan, Italy launched a Mutual Aid Fund to solicit private donations in addition to the 3million euro allocated by City Council, March 17. Disbursement will be made up to a maximum of 500 euros (depending on the members of the family) and for a period of 3 months that may be renewable. Accessible to those who have lost their jobs in Milan since March 1, 2020 and those with income per person up to 400 euros per month. In a second phase, the Fund will be dedicated to more structural interventions that will support the reconstruction of the city's socio-economic fabric, with particular attention to small businesses and economic operators.
Minneapolis, US Mayor Jacob Frey announced he will use his emergency powers to create a $5 million forgivable loan program available to undocumented immigrants to help renters and small businesses affected by the economic fallout from the spread of COVID-19, April 6.
New York City, US Mayor de Blasio announced a partnership with Open Society Foundations to establish the New York City COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief program, to ensure all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, are included in citywide COVID-19 response and relief efforts. The $20 million fund will reach 20,000 immigrant workers and their families with direct, one-time emergency relief, April 16.
São Paulo, Brazil approved the payment of an emergency aid of up to R$1,200 for low-income families in the city. The law may be replicated nationally.
São Paulo, Brazil City Hall will transfer R$ 24 million to families to purchase food at home, April 16.
Zurich, Switzerland offers a non-bureaucratic and quick financial support point of contact for migrants without legal status.
Barcelona, Spain municipal taxes postponed or compensated for shops, bars and restaurants, to guarantee the liquidity of families, businesses and the self-employed. A special office shall develop personalized plans for companies, entrepreneurs and individuals.
Kampala, Uganda considering suspending the collection of fees from markets and Parks so that the funds could be used by the Parks/markets for hand washing facilities or sanitizers (decision expected March 30)
Madrid, Spain reduction or postponement in fees and taxes including Vehicle Tax and Garage Tax postponed; moratorium on ATM fees; and a reduction of 63 million in taxes (IBI and IAE) has been decreed for companies in the leisure, catering, commerce and travel agencies that maintain employment.
Milan, Italy suspended and returned certain tax revenues for individuals.
Other Financial Relief
Anchorage, US halted disconnecting utilities and postponed property taxes and other licensing fees.
Antwerp, Belgium has made €250,000 euro available for innovative, quickly implementable solutions from start-ups and companies that can arm citizens and companies against the impact of the COVID-19 virus and make life possible in lockdown mode. They welcome (digital) solutions in areas such as welfare, health care, childcare, poverty reduction, working from home, communication and participation and more.
Atlanta, US halted termination of water services for non-payment for 60 days starting March 11.
Employment / Workers Rights
Barcelona, Spain established an on-line and telephone labour rights offices network to respond to any question launched by an employee or by an employer who needs to know how to deal with the consequences of the lockdown in their economic activity.
Stuttgart, Germany is creating a corona hotline for local companies and freelancers with experts from the fields of management consultancy, law, coaching or health to offer advice about the virus, hygiene and work regulations and information on economic aid such as grants, support programmes, loans or short-time work.
Inclusive Health Response
Amman, Jordan the Greater Amman Municipality carried out sterilization procedures for all neighborhoods, including areas with a majority of refugees and camps in Amman.
Freetown, Sierra Leone to support behavior change and address water insecurity and access to sanitation, the Freetown City Council is increasing access to water across the city through the installation of rainwater harvesting systems, more than 100 water tanks, and approximately100 handwashing stations with soap and hand sanitizer. NEW
Freetown, Sierra Leone To support those in informal settlements with isolation and containment, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr launched the Benguema Community Care Centre on July 13 in partnership with the Ministry of Health and National Coronavirus Emergency Response Committee (NACOVERC). Transforming an Armed Forces Training Centre, the Care Center will support mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients from informal settlements who cannot self-isolate. It will be operational for at least five months with 180 beds, sanitation and medical equipment, and other social amenities.NEW
Jeju, Korea From March 24, Jeju has been providing COVID-19 testing without charge for all travelers who have visited overseas regardless of their symptoms. From now on, it is mandatory for all travelers entering Jeju to be tested if they have visited a foreign country. Therefore, until the “Highest” infectious disease alert level is lifted, travelers with overseas travel history must undergo testing provided by Jeju at the time of entry and go into mandatory self-quarantine for 2 weeks regardless of their test results.
Los Angeles, United States the city ensures that testing is available to all residents, regardless of symptoms, insurance of immigration status. Additionally, seeing that many lower-income communities (including immigrants) were not able to access drive-through testing sites run by the city, they established walk-up sites with locations in underserved communities.
Mogadishu, Somalia set up portable hand-washing stations, made locally by students, in public places and IDP camps across the city.
Montreal, Canada converted public transport buses into mobile clinics to increase the number of screenings for COVID-19 in neighborhoods home to a large number of refugees and asylum seekers that are far from access to healthcare.
New York City, US city-run healthcare system provides free care regardless of immigration or insurance status or ability to pay.
São Paulo, Brazil installed 100 sinks in impoverished communities and vulnerable occupations without adequate urban infrastructure. The installation points were defined by the social department of the Municipal Housing Secretariat, according to a mapping and data collection of different communities in the city, considering aspects of social vulnerability and flow of people. In total, the action benefited more than 400,000 families. The sinks were donated by Florescer Brasil, a socially responsible company that works to promote universal access to water and sanitation for communities across Brazil. Each sink has a liquid soap dispenser available for the population and the facilities will remain under community leader responsibility. The initiative had the purpose to raise awareness among the population about the importance of hand hygiene as one of the main ways to fight the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to bringing water to places with a large flow of people in the communities.
São Paulo, Brazil City Hall alongside the UN Refugee Agency distributed 1,000 masks to immigrants assisted in the municipal social assistance network. The masks were distributed in three Immigrant Reception Centers and around 500 immigrants received two masks each during the initiative. For the distribution, the Municipal Human Rights and Citizenship Secretariat provided 550 masks purchased from the Sewing for Life (Costurando pela Vida, in Portuguese) program, linked to the Municipal Economic Development and Labor Secretariat. Another 450 masks were donated by UNHCR, as the result of a project by the Labor Prosecution Service, the University of Campinas and the United Nations Population Fund, in which refugees, immigrants and transgender women produce masks. The initiative was well received by immigrants, who were able to choose the masks by the pattern of which they most identified with.
São Paulo, Brazil City Hall partnered with UNICEF to provide personal hygiene items to benefit the most vulnerable people in the city's population: children, adolescents and homeless people. UNICEF alongside the Municipal Assistance and Social Development Secretariat donated 180,000 bar soaps and 78,000 liquid soaps from Unilever, as well as 10,000 tooth pastes from Arcom. All products were delivered to people who are assisted by the social assistance services and distributed by the City.
Taipei, Taiwan Foreign migrant workers who have worked for 6 months, 18 months and 30 months are required to receive regular health examinations, but with the COVID-19 outbreak showing no signs of improvement, to prevent the risk of infection among migrant workers visiting hospitals, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) agreed to postpone the original health examination timetable by 3 months, so the migrant workers can receive their regular health examination after the outbreak has abated.
Pathways for migrant and refugee healthcare workers to aid health response
Buenos Aires, Argentina authorizing migrants from Venezuela with unvalidated professional medical degrees to work in Argentinian health care systems. This practice is expected to be expanded to other areas of Argentina following national decree “to authorize, on an exceptional and temporary basis, the hiring and practice of health professionals and technicians with degrees abroad, whose title is not revalidated or authorized in the Argentine Republic."
France allows qualified refugees to serve in certain public health roles, March 26.
Montreal, Canada the City has advocated the government of Quebec to regularize the status of asylum seekers working in the healthcare system.
New Jersey, US Gov. Murphy signs an executive order that clears the way for immigrant doctors licensed and in good standing in foreign countries to serve in the Covid-19 emergency response, April 1.
New York State, US allow qualified graduates of foreign medical schools without medical licenses in New York to provide patient care in hospitals if they have completed at least one year of graduate medical education, March 23.
Saxony, Germany, the regional medical board is advertising for migrant doctors to help tackle an expected rise in cases. Sent out message via Facebook: “Foreign doctors who already live in Saxony, but do not yet have a license, can help with corona care: email@example.com. We are looking only for Doctors without approval and they stay in Saxony to help us in the Corona pandemic. And: They must speak german,” March 24.
Advocacy to Protect, Include and Empower Migrants and Refugees in Response and Recovery
Freetown, Sierra Leone GOAL Sierra Leone and Here2Help Freetown, partnered with the Freetown City Council to support the City’s isolation and containment support actions. Together, they are working solicit donations from Sierra Leone’s diaspora and residents to provide supplementary food to people in quarantine living in informal settlements.NEW
Los Angeles, US called on US Congress to provide relief to the estimated 2.5 million undocumented immigrants in California, including the estimated 375,000 in Los Angeles alone. With mayors across California, he also called on the state to retroactively extend the California Earned Income Tax Credit to all Californians regardless of their immigration status, April 8.
New York City, US sent letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) calling for suspension of immigration enforcement, and release of detainees, at min those who are elderly, pregnant, or immuno-compromised to prevent the spread of #COVID19 and protect the health of everyone in the immigration system, March 17.
US States of California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, NewJersey, and New York expand professional and occupational licenses for international healthcare workers.
UN Joint Statement — Detained Migrants Should Be Released Immediately, March 31.
New American Economy’s US focused Immigrants and COVID-19 Portal with estimates that show how immigrants are part of America’s fight and response to the COVID-19 health crisis.
Cities for Action support for US cities on advocacy messaging (forthcoming).
Communications to Counter Xenophobia / Stigmatization
Bristol, UK established the #WeAreBristol campaign to support social cohesion, promoting an inclusive local identity and preventing discrimination and xenophobia. Launched just prior to COVID-19, #WeAreBristol unexpectedly became the perfect vehicle to promote community solidarity and volunteerism in reaction to COVID-19.
NON-MIGRANT-SPECIFIC CITY RESPONSES
Urban Response Strategies
India Local Level Mobilisation: Actions and Interventions for COVID-19 produced by UN Habitat, March 31.
Kerala, India Good Practice of State Level Mobilization for COVID-19 produced by UN Habitat, March 31.
London, UK presentation at Global Resilient Cities Network speaker series on emergency response effort so far — Planning for Coronavirus in London, March 19.
Freetown, Sierra Leone is partnering with the European Union in the “EU Stands with Sierra Leone” initiative, a 12-month program to support Sierra Leone’s efforts in fighting COVID-19. This program will target support particularly at the 350,000 people who live in informal settlements in Freetown, many of whom are rural migrants.
Freetown, Sierra Leone City Council COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan, which incorporates lessons learned from the Ebola crisis, adopted March 20 and updated April 27.
Milan, Italy presentation at Global Resilient Cities Network speaker series on emergency response effort so far, including actions taken, organizational structure and long term recovery preparations — Emergency Response Overview, March 19.
Milan, Italy working document — Milano Aiuta (‘Milan does help’): keeping up with social services at the time of Coronavirus, March 24.
São Paulo, Brazil Secretariat for International Affairs maintains a compilation of all city actions taken to tackle the Coronavirus, since March 16. Updated weekly, the report details support to vulnerable communities including migrants and refugees, economic measures, policies to assist homeless people, public health measures, education, public transportation, etc.
Recommendations of operational best practices for mayors from US Conference of Mayors, live collection of US city guidance (12+), and joint letter from 300+ mayors to US Congress requesting $250 billion for direct, flexible emergency assistant to cities — What Mayors Need to Know about COVID-19; Joint Letter to Congress.
Bloomberg Philanthropies providing advice, guidance and webinars for US and international cities (coronavirusresp firstname.lastname@example.org). Produced Crisis management and decision making tools for mayors, developed by Bloomberg-Harvard Cities Leadership Initiative, a Public Health Situation Report for Mayors, developed by Johns Hopkins University, and a Frequently Asked Questions page for mayors that provides guidance on adaptation, communications and more.
Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM) launched “The Corona Crisis: Mayors Act Now Campaign” via their website and Virtual Parliament to connect mayors with each other. The GPM has also worked with the Georgetown University Centre for Global Health Science and Security to realize a meaningful global impact by engaging with pandemic preparedness initiatives that were supported in the GPM Declarations in 2018 and 2019.
Georgetown University Rapid Urban Health Security Assessment (RUHSA) designed for local government leaders and policymakers to support decisions as they prioritize and build capacities to improve local-level health security.
A Frontline Guide for Local Decision-Makers, which provides an initial strategic framework for state, city, and local leaders as they begin planning what will need to be done to reduce the impact of the outbreak in the near term and checklists for action. Produced by NTI, Center for Global Development, Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security, and Talus Analytic.
COVID Urban Response Strategies, from Urban Heritage Conservation and Sustainable Development Research Team School of Architecture, Southeast University (SEU), China; SEU Key Laboratory of Urban and Architectural Heritage Conservation, Ministry of Education, China; UNESCO Chair in Cultural Resource Management, March 18.
Key considerations: COVID-19 in informal urban settlements, from Social Science in Humanitarian Action.
C40 Cities Cities and Coronavirus Knowledge Portal
Live City Action Trackers
300+ actions taken by US cities from the National League of Cities and Bloomberg Philanthropies — Local Action Tracker.
US city actions and model bills from Local Progress — Coronavirus Response. Call on members to 1) advance paid leave, 2) enact moratoriums on evictions and utility shutoffs, 3) and ensure a response that protects the most vulnerable.
European city actions from EUROCITIES — Live Updates on COVID-19 Responses.
Latin American and European city actions from UCLG, Metropolis, and UN Habitat — Cities for Global Health.
US city actions related to immigrant communities from New American Economy — Resource guide for state and local COVID-19 emergency responses.
Learning Exchange / Webinars
Weekly Thursday — webinar for US cities from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard Cities Leadership Initiative (email@example.com to register).
May 14, 10:30-11:30 EDT — Global Resilient Cities Network (GRCN) and World Bank on-line speaker series “Cities on the Frontlines” focused on migration in partnership with the Mayors Migration Council.
April 30, 15:00-17:00 UTC — Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Webinars on the Impact of COVID-19 on Migrants, Migration and Development, open to national governments, local authorities, civil society, and business. Register to firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 30 — UCLG, Metropolis, UN Habitat Live Learning Experience (LLE) focused on LED (select group of UCLG members and partners).
April 29 — UCLG, Metropolis, UN Habitat Live Learning Experience (LLE) focused on informalities (select group of UCLG members and partners).
April 28, 07:00-09:00 UTC — Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Webinars on the Impact of COVID-19 on Migrants, Migration and Development open to national governments, local authorities, civil society, and business. Register to email@example.com.
April 24 — Global Resilient Cities Network (GRCN) and World Bank on-line speaker series “Cities on the Frontlines.”
April 22 — UCLG, Metropolis, UN Habitat Live Learning Experience (LLE) focused on finance (select group of UCLG members and partners).
April 22, 13:00-14:00 CET — WHO Healthy Cities Network - UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities Webinar "Measures developed by cities for migrants and refugees during COVID-19"
April 22 — UCLG, Metropolis, UN Habitat Live Learning Experience (LLE) focused on culture (select group of UCLG members and partners).
April 22 — EUROCITIES webinar on the Fund for European Aid for the most Deprived -FEAD.
April 22 — EUROCITIES City Dialogue on mobility measures in response to the COVID-19.
April 16 — Global Resilient Cities Network (GRCN) and World Bank on-line speaker series “Cities on the Frontlines.”
April 16, 3:00-5:00PM CEST — UCLG, Metropolis, UN Habitat Live Learning Experience (LLE) focused on migration (select group of UCLG members and partners).
April 2, 11.00-12.30AM CEST— WHO Healthy Cities Network Europe – Second Healthy Cities WEBEX focusing specifically on actions needed to reach and support specific groups at risk of vulnerability in this pandemic (members only).
April 1, 2:00PM ET— Atlantic Council City leadership & the impacts of COVID-19 with Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and New Orleans former mayor Mitch Landrieu (open registration).
April 1 3:00-5:00PM CEST — UCLG, Metropolis, UN Habitat 2nd Live Learning Experience (LLE) focused on housing (select group of UCLG members and partners).
April 1, 11:00AM CEST—EUROCITIES (members only) Webinar on EU financial support to fight coronavirus and the socio-economic impact.
March 27 — Local2030 partners call on local-level responses to the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to ensure continued SDG localization despite the disruption.
March 25 —UCLG, Metropolis, UN Habitat first virtual meeting through their Live Learning Experience (LLE) platform for select group of UCLG members and partners . Video first meeting (including presentations from Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Bogota, Durban, Guangzhou, Lampedusa, Madrid).
March 24 — UNESCO learning cities and responses to COVID-19 webinar, presentations on education solutions, contingency plans and distance-learning approaches available from Osan, Republic of Korea; Wuhan, China; Turin, Italy; and São Paulo, Brazil.
March 20 — UNESCO learning cities responding to COVID-19 webinar, presentations on education solutions, contingency plans and distance-learning approaches from Beijing, China; Shanghai, China; Fermo, Italy; and Kashan, Iran.
March 19 — Global Resilient Cities Network (GRCN) and World Bank on-line speaker series “Cities on the Frontlines: Government Responses and Continuity.”
March 19 — Welcoming America webinar (members only, recording available)
OTHER RELEVANT ACTIONS
City Administration Management
Bristol, UK mayor working from home in self-isolation to model behavior.
Freetown, Sierra Leone to combat misinformation and support behavior change messaging, the Freetown City Council (FCC) adopted a community outreach and messaging strategy to share information through significant community influencers, especially in informal settlements, such as market chairpersons, youth leaders, ward councilors, local chiefs, and mammie queens. Producing context in Kiro, the FCC will mobilize 480 community outreach team members to raise awareness and promote behavior change.
Milan, Italy tripartite staff response: emergency management, support for those not infected but forced to quarantine, Task Force working on Plan Zero for when the emergency ends.
São Paulo, Brazil announced new measures on March 16 that include: the mayor moving into City Hall; conducting daily press conferences; municipal employees 60-year-old and over, pregnant women and people with suspicion of the virus will work from home; all interns will be discharged, except those working in health and security; municipal employees will work in two shifts.
Health Support to/from Foreign Nationals
Guangzhou and Shanghai, China donating masks to LA through existing sister city program.
Hamburg, Germany offering to admit foreign nationals in their hospitals. Will admit ten intensive care corona patients from Italy and is currently treating two intensive care French patients. Noted their capacity to take in more, March 28.
Mannheim, Heidelberg, Freiburg and Ulm, Germany accepted French patients in need of intensive care into their hospitals.
China donating 1,000 ventilators to help New York State, April 4.
Philanthropic / Financial Support to Cities
Bloomberg Philanthropies expands support to US cities with a program to help cities navigate, access, and deploy federal aid, March 26.
George Soros Gifts 1 Million Euros to the City of Budapest's Coronavirus Fight, March 30.
Open Society Foundations pledging €1 million to the City of Milan to support the hard work of aiding its most vulnerable and rebuilding its economy, health, spirit, March 31.
Rihanna’s, Clara Lionel Foundation, and Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation, give $2million in grants to support undocumented workers, the children of frontline health workers and first responders, and incarcerated, elderly and homeless populations in New York City and Los Angeles. Clara Lionel Foundation also giving $5million in grants to protect and prepare vulnerable and marginalized communities in the United States, Caribbean and in Africa. Grantees include Mayor’s Fund for L.A., Fund for Public Schools, ACLU, and the New York Immigration Coalition, March 31.
UN Capital Development Fund — Guidance Note for Immediate Action: COVID19 response and Local Government Finance, April 1.
New York City, US and Open Society Foundations announced a partnership with Open Society Foundations to establish the New York City COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief program, to ensure all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, are included in citywide COVID-19 response and relief efforts. The $20 million fund will reach 20,000 immigrant workers and their families with direct, one-time emergency relief, April 16.
Open Society Foundations announced a $130 million USD investment to combat the devastation in the wake of coronavirus. Funding will focus on four efforts 1. to support low-income workers; 2. to protect refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers, who face new COVID-19–related risks with virtually no structural supports; 3. to ensure that as treatments and vaccines emerge, they are available and accessible by all; and 4. to counter the populist narratives and authoritarian power grabs we’ve seen in response to this crisis at the expense of civil liberties and human rights, April 16.