Published On: Thu, Apr 9th, 2020

COVID 19 – Refugee Camps and migrants already facing the brunt of the pandemic.

According to WHO Africa office, COVID19 pandemic is spreading rapidly across African countries. To date there are over 11, 000 reported COVID positive cases , 1405 recovery and 575 deaths. The pandemic has had a negative impact on Africa’s migrant communities , refugees and Internally displaced people who were already struggling to survive. In a chilling message from refugees from Somalia said’ we are waiting to die’.

As Governments struggle to minimise the spread of COvid 19 nationally, you can bet refugees/migrants will be the last on the list of any Government.

Apart from refugees stuck in camps, there are a number of migrants currently stranded in Airports, land borders and sea ports.  According to International Migration organisation, access to supplies like medicine, and food has been greatly affected. Reports of increased increased cases of xenophobia and stigma against migrants and foreigners as well as continued deportation of migrants are a concern for many.

Remittances a life line for many in these camps are likely to stop as many relatives living abroad have either their jobs are have been furloughed.  Somalia is a good example of how lack of remittances is affecting many that depend on it.

According to a report Aljazeera, UNHCR on Wednesday launched a global appeal for $255m to respond to the coronavirus in refugee camps and other vulnerable areas, as part of a wider humanitarian relief plan seeking $2bn.

We must come to the aid of the ultra-vulnerable – millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, calling for stronger coordination to ensure the more vulnerable countries get the support they need.

On Thursday, the Red Cross called for $823m “to help the world’s most vulnerable communities” stop the spread of COVID-19 and recover from the pandemic. That includes migrants and displaced people, homeless people, and those living in disaster-prone areas, among others. 

But just how much donor countries will be able to contribute to those funding drives remains an open question. Most governments are struggling to stave off an economic crisis within their own borders and to support their citizens, many of whom have lost their jobs, through the pandemic. 

In that context, “governments are going to face some really difficult decisions between allocating scarce resources to their own population and the refugee camp”, said Sally Hargreaves, assistant professor in global health at the Institute for Infection and Immunity at St George’s University of London. 

Refugees will be the ones that are sidelined in all of this as the governments move towards supporting their own population as best [as] they can,” she said. 

Hargreaves told Al Jazeera that refugees and IDPs must be included in national COVID-19 plans because they are vulnerable and risk being disproportionately affected by the pandemic. She said it is going to take a significant international effort – and investment – to make sure these groups are not left behind. 

We can’t forget about them. We can’t leave them to fend for themselves,” said Hargreaves. “We need to make sure governments prioritise them – not just their own populations – and [that] they’re funded and supported in doing it.” 

Agnes Gitau – GBS Africa and some coverage from Aljazeera

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COVID 19 – Refugee Camps and migrants already facing the brunt of the pandemic.
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