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Live blog: Refugees in the COVID-19 crisis

UNHCR staff explain WHO guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19 to Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Manaus, Brazil

UNHCR staff explain WHO guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19 to Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Manaus, Brazil. © UNHCR/Paulo Lugoboni

These are some of the ways that UNHCR staff, people forced to flee and supporters around the globe are taking action to stay smart, stay safe and stay kind.


Displaced people and host communities all over the world are at heightened risk as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.


Here are some of the ways they – along with UNHCR staff and supporters – are taking action to stay smart, stay safe and stay kind.

Berlin, Germany

If you’re stuck at home and finding it hard to get enough exercise, why not try UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and Olympian Yusra Mardini’s one-minute workout?

Tanzania

In the camps in northwest Tanzania, which host most of the country’s 325,000 refugees, residents have been receiving soap and information on how to protect themselves from the virus.

San Francisco, Ecuador

In a remote corner of Ecuador, a young Venezuelan doctor called Samuel has been visiting isolated communities to teach elderly locals and refugees most at risk from COVID-19 how to protect themselves against the virus.

United States

UNHCR High Profile Supporter Kat Graham is the latest to take up the World Health Organization’s #SafeHands challenge, after being nominated by our own Dominique Hyde.

Iran

One of UNHCR’s partners in Iran has brought together female Afghan refugees and women from the local community to produce face masks for doctors and nurses working on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.

Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

How do you self-isolate if your family shares a single tent in a crowded refugee settlement? UNHCR colleagues in Lebanon have thought about the problem and launched a project to build isolation units inside refugee settlements around the country.

Gulan settlement, Khost Province, Afghanistan 

Our colleagues in Afghanistan are raising awareness about COVID-19 and providing soap to 3,500 families. There is much more work to do, but we are thankful to all of the refugees and partners working with us.

Geneva, Switzerland

Please take a look at our latest statement on the COVID-19 crisis and how we are responding to protect refugees and their host communities, internally displaced and people who are stateless. We need everyone’s support to keep everyone safe.

Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya

Beauty and function. Refugee artists and tailors in Kenya’s Kakuma camp are joining together to produce these colorful masks.


In case you missed it…

Nearly one million Rohingya refugees at the world’s largest refugee settlement are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 as they live in overcrowded conditions. This Al Jazeera story argues that current restrictions on mobile communications in the settlements in Bangladesh make it more difficult for them to receive and share vital information on how to prevent transmission.


Boa Vista, Brazil

COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, and neither does UNHCR. In Brazil’s northern Roraima state, our staff are setting up a field medical centre that will provide treatment for Brazilians as well as refugees and migrants from Venezuela.

Tanzania

Nduta camp in northwest Tanzania is home to 75,000 refugees from Burundi. Steps setting out how to  protect against COVID-19 are displayed on noticeboards.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Officials in Malaysia said they will not punish people who come forward for COVID-19 testing, no matter what their citizenship status. Including refugees and stateless people in COVID-19 prevention and care is smart, safe and kind.

Turin, Italy 

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in Italy, one organization founded by a former refugee is helping newly arrived refugees in the city of Turin. The organization delivered food, diapers, feminine hygiene items and more to help people during lockdown.

Germany 

In Germany, migrants step up to fill a potential shortage of medical workers.

United Kingdom 

Good news.

Niger 

Refugees from Nigeria living in Niger are making beautiful soap, doing their part to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sudan 

Our staff in Sudan is working around the clock to protect refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Za’atari camp, Jordan

To boost hygiene, Syrian refygees at Za’atari camp in northern Jordan are making and distributing soap.


In case you missed it…

More than three quarters of refugees live in developing countries in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. As this Reuters story makes clear, a COVID-19 outbreak would put extraordinary strain on fragile local health-care services and likely result in avoidable suffering and death. Preventing or delaying outbreaks, particularly among the most vulnerable, is the most important action we can take right now.


Kabul, Afghanistan

Preventing COVID-19 outbreaks is vital. Afghans who received financial support last year to start transport businesses are taking the message about coronavirus prevention out to the streets of Kabul on their tuk-tuks.

Tripoli, Libya

The World Health Organization has classified Libya among the high-risk countries in the Middle East and North Africa. UNHCR has stepped up its support for the health sector’s response to COVID-19, including in the country’s hard-to-reach south.

Portugal 

Countries should follow Portugal’s fine example. Inclusion, compassion and kindness are always the right choice.

Pennsylvania, United States 

We’ve been amazed and inspired by the refugees around the world moved to help their communities. Delivering groceries and air high fives, this entrepreneur in small-town America keeps his community going.


In case you missed it…

This important story in the Guardian (UK) warns that while countries implement restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, they need to remember that humanitarian aid workers must be allowed to deliver food, water and other lifesaving care. Countries must protect everyone, or no one is safe.


New York

Weekend reading! We have an excellent list of books, many of which have been translated into multiple languages. Share these titles with family and friends!

United States

American magazine InStyle on UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie helping refugees and children during the COVID-19 pandemic.


In case you missed it…

Why pay extra attention to refugees during the Coronavirus pandemic? See this great Q&A in Teen Vogue for answers and how to help.


Guatemala 

Coronavirus means our staff and friends must find creative ways to communicate and offer support.


Nowshera, Pakistan

Workers at a UNHCR warehouse in Nowshera load a truck with soap, disinfectant and other medical supplies for distribution to health centres in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces. Pakistan hosts more than 1.4 million Afghan refugees.

Men unloading a truck one is wearing UNHCR branded clothing

At UNHCR’s central warehouse in Nowshera, Pakistan, workers load a truck to dispatch core relief items in support of the Government of Pakistan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. © UNHCR/Anjum Pervez


Geneva

Our leading public health official sets out the steps we are taking to curb the spread of COVID-19 and save refugees’ lives.

Dadaab, Kenya

COVID-19 has closed schools at Dadaab, a complex of refugee camps in Kenya that is home to more than 200,000 refugees and asylum seekers. Undaunted, dedicated English teacher Anima gave her lessons over the airwaves.

Central Africa Republic 

Going home and keeping safe along the way.

Geneva, Switzerland

The kind of inspiration we need now.


In case you missed it…

This article in the Guardian (UK) reminds us refugees around the world stand ready to lend their expertise and skills to the COVID-19 fight.


Guatemala 

Our work is “essential business.” COVID-19 has not stopped war and persecution.

Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates, keeping the ultra-vulnerable free of infection will save lives. Our staff in Lebanon have lost no time in building isolation facilities to safeguard Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley.

Milan, Italy

In the COVID-19 pandemic, AC Milan goalkeeper Asmir Begovic is supporting refugees. Thank you for your generosity Asmir.

Darfur, Sudan

Safety ever in mind, our colleagues in Southern Darfur don face masks and do what they always do – head out to work.

Geneva, Switzerland 

A time for reflection. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Brazil 

A routine that saves lives. Our Brazilian colleagues and partners share handwashing tips with Venezuelan refugees.

Bakhmut, Ukraine

At a community centre for internally displaced Ukrainians in the Donetsk Oblast region of the country, volunteers are using sewing machines donated by UNHCR to produce face masks for local residents.

United States

Nominated by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi to take up the World Health Organization’s #SafeHands challenge, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller took an imaginative approach…

Uganda

In Uganda, which hosts more than 1.4 million refugees, UNHCR has produced a video explaining how refugees can guard against COVID-19 and busting some common myths.

Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan

The region’s largest refugee camp is home to nearly 80,000 Syrians, and residents have come up with their own solution to ensure adequate social distancing in the queue for daily food distributions.

Maratane Refugee Camp, Mozambique

After Mozambique reported its first COVID-19 case earlier this week, UNHCR colleagues in the country’s main site for refugees have begun distributing soap and offering advice to residents on how to protect themselves from the virus.

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

At the world’s largest refugee settlement, in Bangladesh, UNHCR is giving health tips and distributing soap to curb the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak among Rohingya refugees.

Canada

Payback time for writer Robin Stevenson, who four years ago sponsored a refugee family to resettle to Canada. Now self-isolating after travel, that family brought a care package to her door.

Warsaw, Poland

UNHCR’s representative in Poland is highlighting a refugee initiative in the port city of Gdansk to sew protective masks – vital kit in short supply as health-care systems strain to treat soaring numbers of COVID-19 patients.

Frankfurt, Germany

A UNHCR airlift from Frankfurt flew 4.4 tonnes of much needed medical equipment including masks, gloves and essential medicines to support the COVID-19 response in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The country hosts close to one million Afghan refugees and faces critical shortages within its health-care system.

Geneva, Switzerland

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Fillippo Grandi highlights steps taken to curb the COVID-19 outbreak around the world.

Originally published on UNHCR on 30 March 2020