New York - Refugees from the Middle East and Africa have become first-responders to the 6.2-magnitude earthquake that shook central Italy.
New York – Refugees from the Middle East and Africa have become first-responders to the 6.2-magnitude earthquake that shook central Italy.
Hundreds of refugees housed in reception centers not far from the epicenter of the earthquake answered the call to help Italians in their host country.
The quake struck numerous mountain communities as people slept destroying hundreds of homes. The death toll has reached 290 and rises daily. As with most major earthquakes, aftershocks continue. One aftershock caused an already damaged building to collapse yesterday.
Many of the refugees, especially those from sub-Saharan Africa, had never even experienced an earthquake.
“We woke up in the middle of the night and we were scared,” AbdulMalik, a refugee from Ivory Coast, told Deutsche Welle.
AbdulMalik and several other immigrants landed in Sicily and were transferred to the reception center near Ascoli Piceno on the same night as the devastating earthquake, reported DW.
Groups of refugees dressed in orange fluorescent suits or vests cleared villages leveled by the earthquake. They helped their Italian hosts search for survivors and victims trapped beneath downed buildings.
In the southern region of Calabria more than 70 refugees and asylum seekers gave up a daily allowance for personal expenses of 2 euros ($2.30) to help survivors, reported Reuters.
“Pictures and video of the earthquake made them think of the wars and disasters they fled from,” Giovanni Maiolo, local coordinator of the SPRAR project (Protection System for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In Arquata del Tronto, where the quake killed almost 50 people, Abdullai, an asylum seeker from Benin, helped with the clear-up work.
It was the first earthquake he experienced and realizing the devastating consequences, he decided to do something to help the survivors, Abdullai, who only gave his first name, said.
“At first I was very scared,” the 20-year-old told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone. “Then I understood that they needed as much help as possible, and I want to do my part.”
Two Afghani refugees called Sultana, 26, and Hahmed, 27 and three nuns and four elderly guests are still missing. They were last seen at a local boarding house.
In 2015, over 50,000 migrants arrived in Italy amidst open anti-migrant sentiments. Many Italians angered over a poor economy with great concern about Italy’s future, according to Wilson Quarterly. Neofacist groups openly revolted with anti-immigration protest with some that turned violent.
Italian earthquake survivors have lost house and home. They now life in makeshift tents in conditions the refugees and migrants left back in their countries.