The restrictive measures taken to combat COVID-19 including shutting down borders, travel bans and halting migration have put more constraints on the displaced refugee population all over the world, making them more vulnerable to the pandemic. According to UNHCR, there are more than 74.8 million Persons of Concern who are displaced globally; 41.3 million internally displaced, 25.9 million refugees, 3.5 million asylum seekers and 2.8 million stateless persons. Two-thirds of the refugees hail from 5 countries—Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia—and others from Yemen, Ukraine and Iraq. They migrate and seek refuge in their neighbouring countries as seen in the Middle East. This article, the final part of the 3-series article on the impact of COVID-19 on refugees globally, highlights the situation of the most vulnerable group of people in the Middle East.

Image source: World Economic Forum

Presently, the ongoing national COVID-19 preparedness and action plans have been mindful to include all;[1] however, due to entrenched inequalities and weakened infrastructure, the healthcare systems have been largely challenged. Calling the refugees as “ultra-vulnerable,”[2] the UN has established a ‘High-level Panel on Internal Displacement,’ and launched a US$ 2 billion global humanitarian response fund to help fund initiatives to provide equitable healthcare access to all internally displaced children and families and curb COVID-19 in the world’s most vulnerable countries in South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. A total of US$ 255 million has been allocated to UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) as part of the global response fund to coordinate efforts with the international and local NGOs to implement public information campaigns and install the required hygiene stations in refugee camps and settlements across the globe.

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Juanita Justin is Research Intern at CPPR. Views expressed are personal and need not reflect or represent the views of Centre for Public Policy Research.


[1]UNHCR. 2020. COVID-19 Emergency Response Update #3. April 28, 2020. https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/details/75822.

[2]“Record Child Displacement Figures due to Conflict and Violence in 2019: UNICEF.” 2020. United Nations News, May 4, 2020. https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/05/1063162 ; United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. March 25, 2020. https://www.unescap.org/news/covid-19-global-humanitarian-response-plan; “COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.” United Nations Press Release.  March, 2020. https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/press/releases/2020/March/covid-19-global-humanitarian-response-plan.html ; “United Nations Appeals for $4.7 billion dollars More to Fight Coronavirus Pandemic.” March 27, 2020. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/united-nations-appeals-for-4-7-billion-dollars-more-to-fight-coronavirus-pandemic/articleshow/75592173.cms.

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