by Israr Ullah
COVID-19 has had a very bad impact on our lives. Living in a low-income country itself is a great challenge for us, and then life as a refugee in a low-income country is even harder. At first Covid-19 was not taken seriously in Pakistan and by the time people took COVID-19 serious it was too late. People not only faced the challenge of staying home, but there were some immoral acts from people with a narrow religious mindset who said, “Your faith is weak because you believe in this virus”. This created a state of uncertainty among the public. Most of the youth were addicted to going outside every single day but due to COVID-19 they were forced to stay home and it felt like spending life in a prison. Staying home and doing nothing was routine for some young people but there are others who truly took advantage of staying home by spending more time with their families and studies.
Refugees were the only community that did not stop working during the pandemic because they are vendors and peddlers. These people are daily waged people and the government did not have any financial assistance for the refugees. This means that if they are not going to work they won’t get their daily meal. This made life hard for refugees as they were fighting two challenges at the same time: one of hunger and another of catching COVID-19. Everything was closed in Pakistan: educational institutions, parks, hotels, and shopping malls. Travelling was limited – people of one area were not allowed to travel to another area. Travelling from one city to another city was prohibited, sports activities were also prohibited and domestic and international flights were affected by COVID-19. This affected refugees because a large number of refugees live in Pakistan and some people live in Pakistan and have their businesses in Afghanistan, while others work in Pakistan and live in Afghanistan. Also, people from Afghanistan come to Pakistan in large numbers for medical treatment and they were not allowed to go back to Afghanistan. These people were quarantined for more than two months in motels and they faced challenges of money and food because lockdown was imposed and everything was closed; they couldn’t receive money from outside Pakistan nor they could get food from outside. They were the people that COVID-19 struck the most hard.
Another problem was that hospitals did not have enough beds or ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients. As time passed, when some people recovered from COVID-19 their plasma was needed for the current COVID-19 patients, so people started to earn money by selling their plasma for a high price. COVID-19 made life hard: every poor and rich person was affected by lockdown and living in quarantine. Some people thought that 2020 would be the year when people will have flying cars and what happened that people stayed home for months without going out of their houses! COVID-19 was a challenge of life and death, and nobody knew if they were going to have another year of life or will die in this year. Life itself was in state of uncertainty.
Now it seems that the time of pandemic is up. Travelling, hotels, restaurants and offices have started to open already. Sports activities been resumed and educational institutions are now open. People are getting back into their normal life and they are surely enjoying it.