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Coronavirus emergency appeal: UNHCR’s preparedness and response plan (REVISED)

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In light of the unprecedented impact that the COVID-19 outbreak is having across operations worldwide, UNHCR is revising its initial requirements of $33 million and is urgently appealing for an additional $222 million, bringing revised requirements to $255 million to urgently support preparedness and response in situations of forced displacement over the next nine months.

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a pandemic. The coronavirus situation is dynamic and evolving with, as of 25 March 2020, over 400,000 cases reported worldwide in 196 countries.

This outbreak is a global challenge that does not discriminate and can affect anyone—including refugees and displaced people—and which can only be addressed through international solidarity and cooperation. In line with the recently launched COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan and in close coordination with WHO, UNHCR is further scaling up its public health preparedness and response interventions, providing support to vulnerable displaced families experiencing economic shock, and ensuring protection and assistance for those most affected.
COVID-19 is first and foremost a public health crisis, and within that crisis refugee and other forcibly displaced populations are at greater risk as the pandemic evolves.

While States can take vital and evidence-based public health measures to help control COVID-19, these should not discriminate against refugees. This crisis is a reminder that to effectively combat any public health emergency, everyone— including refugees, stateless and internally displaced people (IDPs)—should be able to access health facilities and services in a non-discriminatory manner.

As the crisis has shown, what affects one person can affect many in turn. Even in the wealthiest countries, health systems are struggling to manage under pressure, but the virus can be contained. If, however, it is allowed to spread—especially into refugee and displaced hosting areas—it could affect hundreds of thousands of people, bringing with it a generational setback to the lives and ambitions of refugees, internally displaced people and local communities. The virus can only be eliminated if we all join forces.