Fear of coronavirus spread among refugees mobilizes the UN and NGOs

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The spread of the coronavirus among refugees around the world, more than 80 percent of whom live in developing countries, is a cause of “concern” for the UN and NGOs, which in recent weeks have reinforced their programs and they have called for international solidarity to protect especially vulnerable communities.

“I am very concerned about this unprecedented pandemic and its impact on refugees and host communities,” Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said in a statement. you are “quickly adjusting” your deployment to respond “as best as possible”.

UNHCR, which requested $ 255 million on March 26 in the general appeal of the UN against the pandemic, considers prevention tasks to be key, given that the majority of refugees live in overcrowded camps or in poor urban areas, with hardly any medical assistance and with inadequate sanitation and hygiene networks.

The global director of operations of World Vision, Isabel Gomes, has agreed in this notice, recalling that these types of circumstances “mean that measures to prevent and respond to COVID 19, such as quarantine and social distancing, are simply not possible” .

The NGO, which has distributed quality hygiene kits, masks and disinfectant and works on training in sanitation, protection and education, focuses on children, a group for which the coronavirus represents “an important multiplier of threats.”

Gomes has warned of the risk of “physical and sexual violence, exploitation and abuse, child marriage, child labor and gender violence.” “This pandemic is also likely to increase the number of separated and unaccompanied minors, as older caregivers are at high risk of death from the virus,” he said in a statement.

FOCUS OF ACTION
The UNHCR chief has pointed out that “coordinated international support” is “absolutely critical” in contexts like the current one and in complex scenarios such as Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are accumulating. More than 2,000 volunteers are already working to raise awareness of the threats, as part of a prevention campaign that also includes pamphlets and radio messages, as well as new isolation facilities.

In the Greek Aegean islands, where 35,000 asylum seekers live in facilities designed for less than 6,000, UNHCR has collaborated in the distribution of essential materials and in the establishment of surveillance and quarantine units. It has also mobilized refugees as volunteers to spread the messages.

Humanitarian organizations have begun to carry out temperature controls at the entrances to Jordan’s two main Syrian refugee camps, where store opening hours have been extended to make it easier for the population to keep the necessary distances to avoid infections.

Furthermore, measures have been strengthened in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda and Sudan. In the latter country, the UN has helped in the case of Sudan to a massive information campaign promoted by the Government and which has included the sending of some 15,000 text messages.

In Brazil, UNHCR and its partners have established an isolation zone in the Boa Vista area, with the intention of detaining in it Venezuelan migrants who may be infected with coronavirus. In addition, the distribution of a thousand hygiene batches has begun among the indigenous populations of Belem and Santarem.

© 2020 Europa Press.

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