COVID-19: Protecting the health of refugees during and after the crisis

“On the occasion of World Refugee Day, I would like to join appeals for action to protect the health of the most vulnerable people in displacement during and after the COVID-19 crisis,” said Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC), Chairperson of the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons.

“I call upon all European governments to support the efforts of UNHCR and other organisations to meet the immediate health needs of refugees and to include them in long-term emergency plans, including the supply of emergency information to refugees in their languages and adapted to all levels understanding including children. Gender-specific health facilities are needed, as well as training for health workers to respond to the needs of refugee populations,” he added.

“According to the UNHCR’s Global Trends Report on forced displacement, just published, more that 20 million people were under the protection of the UNHCR and almost 80 million people forcibly displaced globally in 2019, the highest figure ever attained,” he stressed.

“Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed all our lives and has had unprecedented effects on people’s movement everywhere. Migrants are by definition people on the move, many of them forced to leave their homes through conflict or persecution. These people live in temporary and precarious conditions, often without sufficient healthcare and sanitary facilities, thus particularly at risk of contamination. We therefore need to ensure that they have equal access to essential primary care and health services, including reproductive and mental health services,” Mr Fridez concluded.