In the face of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, we are all vulnerable. The virus has shown that it does not discriminate – but many refugees, those forcibly displaced, and the stateless are at heightened risk. Over 85 percent of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing regions where health systems are already overwhelmed and under-capacitated. Many live in overcrowded camps, settlements, makeshift shelters or reception centres, where they lack adequate access to health services, clean water and sanitation. The socio-economic impact of this crisis will likely strip many forcibly displaced of their income. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) together with our sister UN agencies and other partner organizations are working to respond to and mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
The European Union (EU) can also play a leading role in protecting refugees, forcibly displaced and the stateless both inside and outside its borders. Through financial and political support, the EU can help to manage a global crisis which is exacerbating vulnerabilities and inequalities. The EU Communication on the Global Response to COVID-19 serves as a basis to guide future EU responses.