CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY

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+38,500

cases of COVID-19 among forcibly displaced people across 103 countries (as of December 2020).

 

80%

of the world’s refugee population live in countries with weak health, water and sanitation systems.

74%

of refugees are able to meet just half or less of their basic needs as a result of the pandemic.

 

How does the COVID-19 pandemic impact refugees?

The COVID-19 pandemic knows no borders, no backgrounds, no barriers. It has threatened millions of lives and livelihoods across the globe – and those forced to flee have been hit the hardest. 

The majority of refugees and displaced people are hosted in countries with weak health, water and sanitation systems, making them particularly vulnerable to the disease. The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has further compounded these challenges, with many refugees losing their livelihoods and struggling to make ends meet. UN Refugee Agency reports show that approximately 74 percent of refugees are able to meet just half or less of their basic needs as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

UNHCR has been scaling up health, water, sanitation and hygiene services and implementing prevention measures to protect refugees and host communities during this public health emergency. It is also working closely with governments to ensure vulnerable displaced families are included in national preparation and response plans - including vaccination allocation and distribution plans - and supporting those who are experiencing economic hardship during the crisis.

VIDEO

UNHCR High Commissioner explains the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on refugees and displaced communities

How is UNHCR helping refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Since the beginning of the outbreak, UNHCR has been on the ground coordinating efforts to safeguard the rights and needs of forcibly displaced communities and to ensure they have access to essential services and lifesaving support, particularly in densely populated areas.

UNHCR’s coronavirus prevention and response operations are focused on the following areas:  

UNHCR's activities to prevent and respond to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19)Learn more about What We Do

Delivering impact

UNHCR's figures in response to COVID-19

Facts about the COVID-19 pandemic

wo refugee girls from Venezuela washing their hands at an emergency shelter in Boa Vista, Brazil.

Two refugee girls from Venezuela washing their hands at an emergency shelter in Boa Vista, Brazil. 

  • Three billion people – nearly half of the world’s population - do not have a hand washing facility with water and soap at home. In some developing countries, which host large numbers of displaced people, almost three quarters of the population lack access to washing facilities, including soap.
  • Approximately 22 percent of refugee sites have access to less than four gallons of water per person per day. By contrast, American families use on average more than 300 gallons of water per day at home and 70 percent of this is used indoors, according to the according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
  • 1.6 billion children and youth have been affected by school closures and half of all refugee girls in secondary school may not return when classrooms reopen. 

 

Coronavirus stories from refugees

Former refugee steps up to feed his community in Texas during pandemic

COVID-19 update: Facts about the novel coronavirus and how it impacts refugees

Other coronavirus updates and stories >

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