Refugees and COVID-19: What Steps Are Being Taken to Protect the Most Vulnerable

In the past few months, COVID-19 has spread to almost every country in the world. Due to a lack of resources, refugees face additional challenges in following the recommended steps for preventing the spread of infection, such as frequent hand-washing. An outbreak in refugee camps would create a heightened threat for individuals already experiencing barriers to accessing health care systems and preventative services, like sanitation facilities.

“Just like we’ve seen COVID-19 spread throughout the entire world, we’re going to see it in camps, but I think what isn’t inevitable is the outcome,” said Devon Cone, Senior Advocate for Women and Girls at Refugees International, and former RefugePoint Child Protection Expert. “I think the outcome can really be drastically changed based on our behaviors and based on how humanitarians respond,” Cone explained in this video. 

Organizations are working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in camps by implementing strategies to promote social distancing and isolation, access to health care and sanitation facilities, and continuing traditional programming services. 

As the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, RefugePoint’s Chief Strategy Officer, Amy Slaughter, spoke with Devex about the increased risk that refugees face and the current response to COVID-19 in refugee camps.

“We’ve done a lot around public health information and how to protect yourself. There was already an SMS system for sending out messages broadly to the refugee community, so we have that in place and are using that to get the word out,” said Slaughter.

RefugePoint is currently working to fill the current gap by providing refugees with critical public health information and resources, such as hygiene supplies, that they need to prevent the spread of COVID-19.