As the coronavirus outbreak takes on the whole world, human rights groups are vigilant of the tremendous impact that the virus might have on the world’s most defenseless populations, and this includes the refugees.
Refugees, also known as asylum seekers, are individuals who have been maltreated or discriminated against and have decided to remove themselves from their homes because they feel that they are no longer safe. They then flee to another country, where they apply for asylum and are granted refugee status. That is how these groups of people become refugees. As of today, there are about 25 million of them all over the world, the largest of which are from Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria, Somalia, and Burma.
Vulnerable To COVID-19 Contamination
Refugees will most likely be infected the same way that others are by their host communities, although refugees are more susceptible. This is why.
Refugee camps are typically seen in areas where there is a lack of medical care, and there are no hospitals nearby. The larger refugee camps may have them, even ventilators and ICUs, but only very few. Lately, though, more hospitals badly need additional ventilators, and the pressing matter is whether these refugee camps will even be left with one or two ventilators when the national hospitals can’t risk lending them. Thus, health care is a significant vulnerability.
The second reason is that refugees usually thrive with multiple families and in densely populated environments. Social distancing will most probably be painful for them to practice, as there will be no more space for them to do just that. This is seen in Bangladesh with the Rohingya population – 900,000 of them are staying in one area.
Lastly, refugees have a high probability of having existing health conditions like malnutrition. This is why researchers and experts are concerned that they are among the most susceptible to acquiring COVID-19, and it will affect them more rigorously than the rest of the people in their corresponding communities.
Outbreaks In Refugee Populations
There is currently an outbreak in Greece where refugees and migrants are staying. In a place that’s snug and detention-like, the coronavirus will spread rapidly. That is one of the worst situations. It is not sensible to place people in these kinds of situations. Some refugees in American detention centers have also been found to have positive cases of the virus among refugees and migrants. In other countries, on the other hand, there have also been minor outbreaks, but apparently, we all have not seen the worst of it yet, particularly in Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of Asia. Refugees are rampant in these countries.
Measures Taken For Refugee Camps
A new technique being used in camps today is known as shielding. Families that know each other transfer their seniors and those with existing conditions to separate locations, distancing them from the other fields to protect them. They are ‘shielded’ because they are the most susceptible groups. This is done before contamination occurs in the community. So far, this has been effective in camps that made attempts at meticulously implementing the technique.
Other measures done include the closure of schools and other institutions and risk communication, which means discussing to people what the virus is, how they can acquire it, and what they can do to prevent further infection. More isolation centers are also being put in place.
Preventing And Minimizing Infection Among Refugees
Testing centers should be positioned in corresponding areas within the community for everyone – national or refugee. Differentiating is a bad display of public health sense. Funding for low and middle-income countries should be made available so that they will have the means to fight against the virus. Though the spread is largely in major countries with high incomes, those with low incomes will be severely affected if the outbreak hits them, and they have no external financial assistance.
Finally, let us not use this global crisis as an excuse to magnify stigma or to stop helping refugees. The COVID-19 has nothing to do with your position – who’s national and who’s a refugee. The virus affects all of us.