Global news on the impact of COVID 19 on displaced people, asylum seekers and refugees

Displaced people and host communities all over the world are at heightened risk as the coronavirus pandemic spreads. Here are some of the ways they – along with UN Refugee Agency UNHCR’s staff and supporters – are taking action to stay smart, stay safe and stay kind.

The Disasters Emergency Committee member charities working in poorer countries and refugee camps prioritise those most in need of humanitarian assistance, including those most severely affected by Covid-19 over the coming months.  DEC members Age InternationalCARE InternationalIslamic Relief and Oxfam have launched international appeals to combat the pandemic, as has the International Federation of the Red Cross.

The Lancet sets out why refugees and asylum seekers are so much at risk. Here is a summary:

Many people who have been affected by humanitarian crises live in camps. These inadequate and overcrowded living arrangements present a severe health risk. The absence of basic amenities, such as clean running water and soap, insufficient medical personnel presence, and poor access to adequate health information are major problems. Basic public health measures, such as social distancing, proper hand hygiene, and self-isolation are not possible in refugee camps.

Migrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19 in the wider community. They are over-represented among the homeless population, undermining their ability to follow public health advice, including basic hygiene measures, quarantine, or self-isolation.

International migrant workers and refugees can be affected by income loss, health-care insecurity, and the ramifications that come with postponement of decisions on their legal status or reduction of employment, legal, and administrative services.

A million people have already signed this petition backing the UN Secretary General’s call for an immediate global ceasefire, so people in war torn regions can have life-saving aid to fight the coronavirus. They say that some world leaders are already supporting it. Given the impact of the virus on displaced people in camps around the world, you may want to sign.