The Spanish refugee rescuers who are now helping on the country’s Coronavirus front lines in Barcelona

VOLUNTEERS from Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms are taking patients who have tested positive with the Coronavirus to hospitals and helping staff in care homes, where thousands of frail elderly residents have died.
The NGO is used to saving refugees from the seas, but now, Spanish rescuers are using their expertise to help in the current health crisis.
“They say that this virus is blind and it will affect everyone equally but that is not true,” said Mar Sabe, a volunteer, “When you are living rough and you have nowhere to live in secure confinement, then you have a much higher chance of catching this virus.”
Sabe works to find teenage refugees and migrants places to stay, which are provided by the local authorities and also help staff in care homes to test elderly residents for the virus.
“You see people in some care homes where the staff have hardly any protective equipment and others where they are well protected,” she said.
Proactiva Open Arms launched in 2015 at the height of what was Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Tens of thousands of refugees tried to escape the horrors of the Syrian civil war by fleeing to Europe across the Mediterranean.
Helped by the gift of a yacht the charity started picking up people who were crossing in boats from Turkey to Greece and from Libya to Italy.
However, after the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, the rescue organisation has focused on the crisis closer to home and started working with health authorities in Barcelona, where it is based.
“We are accustomed to dealing with a problem on the sea, helping migrants who are in difficulties,” Gerard Canals, Proactiva Open Arms director of operations, “It is different, but at the same, these are both emergencies where people’s lives are at risk. We wanted to help.”

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Written by

Damon Mitchell

From the interviewed to the interviewer

As frontman of a rock band Damon used to court the British press, now he lives the quiet life in Spain and seeks to get to the heart of the community, scoring exclusive interviews with ex-pats about their successes and struggles during their new life in the sun.

Originally from Scotland but based on the coast for the last three years, Damon strives to bring the most heartfelt news stories from the spanish costas to the Euro Weekly News.

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