BARCELONA PAKISTANI COMMUNITY
Pakistanis began migrating to Spain in the 1970s, largely to work in mines throughout the country. However, soon they established a foothold in Barcelona, particularly in a central area known as El Raval. Today, some 43,000 Pakistanis live in the capital city of Catalonia, about half of the country’s total diaspora.
Al Jazeera reports that in recent weeks the Barcelona Pakistani community has stepped up to support a city in crisis. In particular, some 200 Pakistani taxi drivers are participating in a program that offers free transportation to doctors and medical staff. They have coordinated with hospitals to provide services both in the city center and on the outskirts. Not only do these drivers face risks to their health, they are also under acute financial pressure. The city has significantly limited taxi traffic, and almost all drivers who are not self-employed have been fired. At least five Pakistani taxi drivers have been hospitalized.
Other members of the Pakistani community are pitching in where they can. Grocery store owners are providing food and resources for distribution to families in need. And volunteers at the Catalan Islamic Cultural Centre are sewing hundreds of masks and robes.
Barcelona, along with Madrid, has been hit hard by the pandemic. The region of Catalonia alone has seen over 31,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,148 deaths. The Barcelona metropolitan area comprises 72% of the Catalonian population. Spain currently has the most confirmed cases and the second most deaths in all of Europe.
Sky News offers an inside look at a Barcelona hospital where 75% of the patients are suffering from COVID-19.