The health of those forced to flee is a major priority for UNHCR. 

Photo: © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

UNHCR is committed to advocating for refugees’ access to healthcare services across the globe. From refugee camps to urban cities, UNHCR works tirelessly to build the capacity of healthcare institutions in its efforts to prevent the spread of diseases. Thanks to the generous donations from Canadians, UNHCR is able to continue improving health infrastructure and provide training for health workers to ensure refugees receive the adequate healthcare treatment they are entitled to.

As promised by the 1951 Geneva convention, States should provide refugees staying in their territory with the same treatment and access to health services that host populations receive. UNHCR cooperates with host governments and international organizations like the WHO to ensure refugees enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

UNHCR provides specialized healthcare to best meet the needs of each person under its mandate. Among forcibly displaced populations in developing countries, the top concerns facing children under the age of five are malaria, malnutrition, measles, diarrhea and respiratory tract infections. At the start of an emergency, our priorities and those of our partners, are measles immunization, nutritional support, control of communicable diseases and epidemics, implementation of the reproduction health measures and public health surveillance. As the situation stabilizes, these services are enlarged. In more developed and urban settings, public health priorities among adults shift toward cardiovascular and chronic diseases and cancers. 


Mental Health Support

UNHCR is committed to addressing the mental health needs of refugees, displaced, stateless people, and vulnerable members of host communities. To do so, we provide counselling and psychosocial support to those forced to flee and struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Furthermore, to best serve refugees’ needs, UNHCR staffers that interact with people in distress receive training.

Syrian-Canadian psychologist Abrar Mechmechia knows the importance of mental health for refugee children. In Syria and in Canada, Mechmechia has worked diligently to help children recover from the trauma of war. Read her story.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

With the support of Canadian donors, UNHCR is able to provide quality sexual and reproductive health services to refugees around the world. UNHCR services include raising awareness and sharing knowledge on sexual and reproductive health services for women, men, teenagers, sex workers, young people, and LGBTIQ+ persons. Learn more here.


UNHCR is a co-sponsor of UNAIDS and the lead convening agency for HIV in emergency situations.  Considering that 1 in 14 people living with HIV was in a humanitarian context, UNHCR works tirelessly to ensure forcibly displaced persons have access to treatment and comprehensive reproductive health services. By ensuring access to HIV prevention, care, treatment and support programs, UNHCR places the wellbeing of the people under its mandate as a top priority.


Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

With 20% of all refugee families not having working toilets, UNHCR is working to ensure the hygiene needs of refugees are met by building sanitation infrastructure like latrines and showers to prevent the transmission of diseases. Our Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program ensure the delivery of water and sanitation services to millions of people in camps, outside of camps and in urban settings. 

Nutrition and Food Security

Ensuring that people have access to adequate, nutrient-rich food and safe water is essential for protecting the safety, health and well-being of millions who have been forced to flee.  We strive to improve the nutritional status of the displaced wherever we can.  Learn more about our work providing nutrition and food security.

For every copy downloaded of UNHCR Canada’s free e-cookbook, “Tastes from Home: Recipes from the Refugee Community”, an anonymous supporter will donate on your behalf to end food insecurity in refugee communities. Get your copy now.

Donate Today
Please help refugee families in need.

Pin It on Pinterest