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International Rescue Committee Mobilizes Arizona Response to COVID-19

Last updated 

Last updated on March 23, 2020

What we are doing

Our staff is working to provide immediate assistance to refugee families who have emergency needs, including food security, lack of shelter, and barriers to medical care. Photo: IRC

During the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, our primary goal is to protect the health and safety of those we serve. To do so, the IRC in Arizona is modifying our operations to focus on essential services for refugees and immigrants while taking appropriate safety precautions for clients and staff.

Refugees and other New Americans may be disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Many work in industries like hospitality, food service, and transportation that are the hardest hit by economic losses. Other families may struggle to find culturally appropriate information in their language to understand the pandemic, navigate the health care system, and connect with community resources. With schools and other essential services closed or limited across Arizona, refugee families need our help more than ever.

We continue to update our plans based on the latest recommendations from government and health officials as well as the needs of our clients and staff. We are here for refugees, immigrants, and our community, no matter what.

As of March 23rd, we have implemented the following:

  • Our Phoenix and Tucson offices are moving to a full remote work schedule. Both offices will be temporarily closed to clients and visitors in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure service continuity. Staff will work from home and connect with clients over the phone and online. Volunteer work has been temporarily suspended, although volunteers can still apply online. We are no longer accepting in-person donations at these offices.
  • The Phoenix Welcome Center for Asylum-Seeking Families remains open. We continue to receive families at the Welcome Center. We are maintaining strict on-site safety and hygiene protocols and have developed a series of contingency plans. Non-essential volunteer work has been suspended and we are no longer receiving in-person donations at the Welcome Center. Questions regarding the Phoenix Welcome Center can be directed to: Phoenix.WelcomeCenter [at] Rescue.org.
  • We are proactively calling clients to evaluate their needs, especially our most vulnerable clients. We are contacting all current clients, as well as clients from the past year who are pregnant, seniors, or have chronic health issues. During these conversations, we are evaluating the safety and health of refugee families and planning for assistance if they need aid.
  • We are providing emergency assistance to families. Our staff is working to provide immediate assistance to refugee families who have emergency needs including food security, lack of shelter, and barriers to medical care. We will be delivering hygiene kits, food boxes, and other basic items to refugee families in need.
  • We are continuing to provide services remotely – over the phone or online. Our teams continue to aid clients in overcoming challenges in housing, employment, healthcare, and other challenges, with a focus on health and safety.

How you can help

We need your help, now more than ever, to make #RefugeesWelcome during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Share information with your neighbors and friends. The IRC has released a series of informational graphics, translated into multiple languages, on our Facebook pages. Please consider sharing these and keep an eye out for more information.

Donate items from our Amazon wishlist. While the IRC in Arizona is not currently accepting in-person donations at our offices, you can donate hygiene items, household goods, and clothes through our Amazon wishlist. All items donated will be provided to refugee families in Arizona.

Donate to our Emergency Response Fund. Many refugees work in the hospitality and transportation industries and may be disproportionately affected by economic losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Emergency Response Fund will allow us to provide emergency assistance to refugee families for rent, food, and other basic needs.