Dear friends and supporters,
Our thoughts and prayers have been with each of you during the COVID-19 crisis. Thank you again for your solidarity with the people we serve.
The impacts of COVID-19 on refugees and people seeking asylum.
Coronavirus has affected everyone and does not discriminate. Right now, people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations face new levels of desperation.
Since the pandemic, many people are coming back to JRS for urgent support. Due to the crisis, former clients have now lost the jobs that we helped them find. Meeting their families’ needs, buying food, medicine and accessing healthcare is almost impossible. Now, high numbers of children, women and men are hungry, face homelessness or are being threatened with eviction. The number of people talking about suicide has risen significantly. In the absence of any Federal government support for these people, they don’t know how they will survive.
For many, JRS is the only safety net.
Fear, anxiety and suicidal thoughts
Let us tell you about Ahmad, his wife Noora and their daughter Sultana. This family came to Australia late last year, and then applied for protection. They contacted JRS Australia when they were in severe financial hardship. They were four weeks behind on rent and on the cusp of being homeless. After an assessment, JRS Australia began supporting the family to pay some of their rental arrears, but they were nonetheless evicted. Ahmad found casual work in a factory earlier this year and the family informed JRS that they no longer needed any support.
The family also managed to sign a short-term lease on another rental property in Western Sydney. At the end of March, with the COVID 19 pandemic, Ahmad lost his job and the family contacted JRS again for support. Both Ahmad and Noora were experiencing suicidal ideations, they were in distress and worried about their daughter. JRS, they said, was their only hope.
Our team made a number of mental health crisis calls, as well as referrals for longer-term community mental health support. The family still do not have any source of income and are getting by on JRS’ foodbank handouts and JRS’ lifesaving emergency relief payments. JRS Australia is strongly committed to continue working with the most excluded. We are working hard to do everything we can to assist individuals and families like Ahmad, Noora and their daughter, but we are struggling.
In these unprecedented times, your solidarity and contribution are more crucial than ever.
It’s only because of people like you that JRS Australia has been able to remain open and continue providing life-saving services to refugees and people seeking protection, as well as advocating to extend a vital safety net to everyone living in the Australian community, regardless of their visa status.
Our friends and supporters have allowed JRS Australia to adapt to COVID-19 and respond as much as we can to the needs of the people we serve. We have upscaled our services to provide weekly home foodbank deliveries to more than 750 people. We provide urgent and specialised casework support; emergency relief; employment support and essential services including “dignity packs” to women experiencing domestic violence in these difficult times. But JRS services are overstretched. We are struggling to meet an increased demand of 224%.
During this tax time, please help JRS Australia to continue giving hope, dignity and lifesaving support to those who have been forgotten. Without the generosity of people like you, our work would not be possible. Can you help?
COVID-19 means that now, more than ever, we must come together to support our sisters and brothers who are suffering. JRS echoes the call of Pope Francis to be messengers of life in a time of death.
The months ahead will continue to be challenging for the people that we serve even with social distancing measures easing off, but together we can help to build a more just world, one where basic dignity is guaranteed for all.
On behalf of the JRS Australia team and the people we serve, we thank you for standing with us in times of crisis.
Director, JRS Australia
*Names have been changed to protect identity. Pictured above: JRS Australia Director, Carolina Gottardo delivering food to people seeking asylum.