The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for the inclusion of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)in the fight against COVID-19.
The UN health agency made the call on its Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo, official twitter account, @WHOAFRO, on Saturday, to commemorate the World Refugee Day.
World Refugee Day is an international event, held on June 22 every year, which is dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world.
“We call for the interests of refugees and IDPs to be included in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“No one must be left behind; everyone deserves access to food, sanitation and healthcare,’’ it said.
WHO, however, thanked all refugees and migrants who were working with host communities to respond to COVID-19.
Similarly, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.Director-General of WHO, in a tweet, said the UN health agency was concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in refugee camps.
“WHO is deeply concerned about the very real and present danger of widespread transmission of COVID19 in refugee camps, as refugees often have limited access to adequate shelter, water, nutrition, sanitation and health services,” he said.
Also, in a message to commemorate the day, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said refugees and IDPs were among the most vulnerable to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The secretary-general commended them for stepping up on the frontlines of response.
“From camps in Bangladesh to hospitals in Europe, refugees are working as nurses, doctors, scientists, teachers and in other essential roles, protecting themselves and giving back to the communities that host them.
“On World Refugee Day, we thank refugees for their resourcefulness and determination to rebuild their own lives, and to improve the lives of those around them,” he said.
In a recent policy brief, Guterres urged governments to ensure “people on the move” were included in pandemic response and recovery.
In addition, he called on countries to end conflict that drove “appalling displacement numbers.”
He reminded countries of their fundamental obligation to protect the nearly 80 million people worldwide forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution and other crises.
The UN chief also praised the nations and communities hosting refugees and internally displaced people often amid their own economic and security challenges.
“We owe these countries our thanks, our support and our investment,” he said.
He quoted the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, as having reported on Thursday that global displacement was at a record high.
“Figures reached 79.5 million in 2019, with 10 million people fleeing in the past year alone.
“On World Refugee Day, we pledge to do everything in our power to end the conflict and persecution that drive these appalling numbers,” Guterres said.