UN Refugee Agency is ramping up efforts to increase capacity to prevent, treat and limit the potential spread of COVID-19 among refugee communities across East Africa.
In a statement of UNHCR, refugees in the region are particularly vulnerable to the virus, both in refugee camps and in urban areas.
Living in crowded conditions, without adequate access to water and sanitation facilities, and with precarious livelihoods increase their vulnerability to the virus, the statement added.
UNHCR is actively engaged with Ministries of Health and other government authorities, and the WHO, on the inclusion of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people (IDPs) in national response plans.
A number of countries in the region already have exemplary policies in place that allow refugees to access public health-care services, the statement stated.
However, several refugees live in remote areas many miles from the nearest government health facilities.
The outbreak comes on the top of existing emergency conditions in the region, where 60 percent of refugees are experiencing food ration cuts due to underfunding.
This may be further exacerbated by breaks in the regular supply chain due to a variety of COVID-19 measures, including border restrictions and controls.
The pandemic is also having a severe impact on refugees’ abilities to work and generate income.
A part of the broader UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan, UNHCR issued an Emergency Appeal requesting 255 million USD for life-saving interventions and preparations in response to COVID-19.
Source: Ethiopia News agency