Opening Message of the Lead Convenor during the Launching of the April 28 Coalition for Migrants’ and Refugees’ Rights and Welfare, April 28, 2020, Europe

Dear friends, dear all:

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hardly hitting almost if not all countries in the world. As of this very moment 3,075,523 people have been confirmed infected, 925,114 have recovered and more than 211,700 have died and a vaccine has yet to be found and tested to be medically proven effective.

Countries have varied approaches in fighting against the pandemic and protecting their own people from lockdowns to closing of borders, massive testing to provisions of basic necessities of people to medical responses to save lives.

Aside from the elderly and sick people, there are other groups of peoples in every country who are also vulnerable to this pandemic whose situations, if not given attention, will also become a hindrance to completely defeat the coronavirus – they are the migrants (regular and irregular), immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced peoples who have no access to the healthcare system of their host countries.

Fortunately for these groups of peoples in Portugal, a historic and most humane legislation, the Portuguese Council of Ministers decided to grant migrants and asylum seekers in the country the full citizenship rights in order to permit them full access to country’s healthcare reduce the risks for public health brought about by the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus that escalates in the country.

The said action of Portugal gives hope to the vulnerable migrants as mentioned above in the countries and inspires the formation of April 28 Coalition, a Europe-wide coalition of grassroots organizations with a migration background, religious organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society formations, institutions, political parties, influencers, academics and concerned individuals to ask the governments for the regularization and/or full citizenship rights for all migrants, immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced peoples, including irregular or undocumented migrants.

Today, and right now, April 28, 2020, we are launching of this coalition during the Commemorations of the UN’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work and the International Day of Remembrance and Action for Workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work as declared by the International Labor Organization.

In behalf of the initial convenors and proponent, we thank you for accepting the invitation and challenge and in joining us in this April 28 Coalition and in adding significance of this historic day as we launch this coalition virtually amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before we proceed, may we ask everyone to pause for a minute silence as we remember the many workers around the world who have died at work. As we remember them, let us also include those who have died because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Right Revd Antonio N. Ablon

Bishop Chaplain, Iglesia Filipina Independiente Europe Chaplaincy

Interim Coordinator, Europe Network for Justice and Peace in the Philippines

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