Portugal Grants Full Citizenship Rights to Migrants in Response to Coronavirus

Portugal has temporarily granted all migrants and asylum seekers across the country full citizenship rights, giving them complete access to the country’s health care and removing all restrictions to their access to public resources and facilities.

The decision will “unequivocally guarantee the rights of all the foreign citizens” meaning they are “in a situation of regular permanence in National Territory,” until June 30, said the Portuguese Council of Ministers. Claudia Veloso, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs said “people should not be deprived of their rights to health and public service just because their application has not yet been processed,” adding that in these exceptional times, the rights of migrants must be guaranteed.

Portugal’s decision was welcomed on Monday by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic.

“(It is) a good practice to protect vulnerable people and society in response to the pandemic,” Mijatovic wrote on her Twitter account.

President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called the Covid-19 pandemic “a true war,” which would bring true challenges to the country’s “way of life and economy.” The President also praised the behavior of Portuguese citizens, “who have been exemplary in imposing a self-quarantine,” reflecting “a country that has lived through everything.”

The decision is a spectacular act of solidarity in a time of crisis. The Portugese government has recognised that the war against Coronavirus can only be won when humanity stands together and that none of us are safe, unless we all are.

Sikhs Around the World are Helping Thousands of Elderly People in Self-Isolation

Sikh communities around the world have mobilised to prepare and deliver food items and home cooked meals for elderly and vulnerable people in self isolation amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In New York, where the coronavirus has forced a shut down of many facilities, the Sikh Center of New York has prepared tens of thousands of home cooked meals to distribute to federal agencies in the area.

The meals are prepared in accordance with hygeine practices reccommended by the WHO and are vegetarian, comprising of rice, dry fruits and lentils. Himat Singh, coordinator of the American Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (East Coast) stated ‘”The distributing agencies will provide the food packages to the elderly or people having trouble getting food at supermarkets, specially-abled, homeless and single parents who are looking after their kids and can’t go out”. The centre appealed to Gurdwaras all around the country to reach out to stranded individuals and communities at this time and offer their services.

In Sydney, Australia, Sikh communities have donated more than 1.5 tons of food for delivery to Australian residence unable to regularly shop for basic foods. Speaking with the The Daily Mail Australia, a Sikh volunteer truck-driver said that preference was given to the elderly, disabled and people at risk of serious complications of the coronavirus, but that their community would help anyone who calls them.

In the UK, the Nishkam project has been providing support for disadvantaged community for decades and became the first Sikh led charity to take ‘Langar’ to the streets, a tradition of providing food and essential items to all members of the community. Their intiative has brought together people of all backgrounds to come together to assist those in need.

This service to the community is deeply embedded in Sikh values. The Guru Granth Sahib, the central religious scripture of Sikhism states that ‘The true path to God lies in the service of our fellow beings’. This belief continues to fuel initiaves led by Sikh Gurdwara’s around the world to protect the displaced, homeless, elderly and vulnerable within and beyond their communities.

Image source: Sikh Volunteers Australia, Community Organization at https://www.facebook.com/sikhvolunteers.australia/