Over 1000 people line up for free food in Geneva as coronavirus continues to wreck livelihoods


More than 1,000 people queued up to get free food parcels in Geneva, highlighting the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the working poor and undocumented immigrants even in wealthy Switzerland.

The line of people stretched for more than 1 km (half a mile) outside an ice rink where volunteers were handing out around 1,500 parcels to people who started queuing as early as 5am.

Currently Switzerland has 30,305 confirmed cases of coronavirus and has recorded 1,830 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Patrick Wieland, from the Doctors Without Borders group, said: ‘In Geneva, one of the richest cities in the world, there have always been people living precariously, especially all the people who work as housekeepers, in agriculture, on construction sites or in hotels, and they found themselves overnight without a job because of COVID-19.’

One illegal immigrant who called himself Fernando said he lost his restaurant job during the crisis and had no

‘I’m very grateful to receive this help and if the situation changes for me, I am committing to do the same thing that they are doing for me,’ he said.

‘At the end of the month, my pockets are empty. We have to pay the bills, the insurance, everything,’ said Ingrid Berala, a Geneva resident from Nicaragua who works part-time. ‘This is great, because there is food for a week, a week of relief…I don’t know for next week.’

In a nation of nearly 8.6 million, 660,000 people in Switzerland were poor in 2018, the charity Caritas says, particularly single parents and those with a low level of education unable to find work after losing a job.

More than 1.1 million people were at risk of poverty, which means they have less than 60% of the median income, which was 6,538 Swiss francs ($6,736) for a full-time job in 2018.


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