Diaporama – Raising awareness about COVID-19 in the slums of Ile-de-France

The photojournalist George Nickels went to the field for telling, through his pictures, the activities of Premiere Urgence Internationale during the COVID-19.

I followed and documented health mediators from Première Urgence Internationale as they conducted their activities in the slums of L’Haÿ-les-Roses and Bidonville in Vitry, Val-de-Marne. On arrival to the camps I was left under the impression that the majority of the residents were in denial that the Covid-19 pandemic was real, there were no precautionary measures being taken to protect themselves against the virus, masks and gloves were redundant and no hand sanitiser was being used.

The sanitary conditions were minimum and access to running water was virtually nonexistent. I was not shocked by this and expected that the living conditions of the people in the slums would be rough as I know that people from Romania and Moldavia have always been subject to systematic violence and discrimination throughout Europe.

These factors underline the importance of the work that the organisation partakes in, providing psychological support, and raising awareness in the prevention of contracting the virus. I observed the lack of protection against the pandemic and the vulnerability of the children, It is something that I have become accustomed  to seeing every day in South East Asia, for example, where I lived in Cambodia the vast amount of children take care of each other, this behaviour is rarely seen in Europe.

I was impressed by the calm and collected response from the people living in the slums towards a group of strangers entering their territory. Première Urgence Internationale distributed the essentials needed to stay as safe as possible during the outbreak as well as providing the necessary items to keep themselves and their children clean and relatively healthy. These actions were conducted in a very professional manner and the residents were patient, everything worked fluidly.

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