Refugees and the Impact of COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has infected over 90 million people and taken over 2 million lives.  Certain populations have been more vulnerable to becoming infected by the virus than others. Among the most vulnerable are the world’s 79.5 million people who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution. In addition to the health threats, people who have been forcibly displaced have faced difficult economic and social challenges associated with the pandemic.

Many refugees live in densely populated camps where physical distancing is very difficult,  have limited access to public health services and often lack funds to obtain adequate treatment.

The spread of COVID-19 has devastated many countries’ health and economic systems and disrupted the education of more than a billion children. This has been particularly true or developing countries which host 85 per cent of the world’s refugee population.

Total or partial lockdowns have prevented refugees from earning a daily income, especially since many refugees do not have stable jobs. While refugees have the right to work, half of the refugees are not allowed to work in their host country and COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation.

In addition to these challenges, the pandemic has impacted the mental health of refugees as well as their access to seeking asylum and access to education.

Governments, organizations and communities must do all they can to protect the rights and health of everyone. Including refugees in identifying and implementing solutions is in everyone’s interest in order to stop the spread of the virus and rebuild our societies.