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COVID-19 emergency response: Risk communication and community engagement in the Americas


Since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted operations and required a different approach to communication with communities.

UNHCR communication channels have been rapidly enhanced and enlarged to ensure the continued provision of vital health and protection information.

All operations support national authorities and WHO/PAHO efforts disseminating key messages in various formats and languages.

Operational Context

  • Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Americas in March 2020, UNHCR and its partners, in coordination with key actors, are developing alternative means of communicating with communities, engaging and mobilizing them.

  • With rapidly changing dynamics in the field, UNHCR is continuously adapting its services and support to refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced populations, stateless people and those that host them in the region. As part of a comprehensive response for the protection of populations of concern to UNHCR in the Americas, UNHCR approaches communities through creative and flexible mechanisms, aiming at an open and sustainable two-way communication. This is also critical to ensure timely analysis of risks, needs and gaps of the people most in need, and to ensure coordination with national authorities and humanitarian actors.

  • All operations actively disseminate WHO/PAHO and national authorities’ key messages to widen impact and ensure the adequate information is provided. UNHCR offices have adapted these messages to different formats and languages that are more accessible to community groups, such as indigenous communities and children. All of this information is available in the UNHCR Americas online repository created to track materials available in each country, share good practices and identify needs and gaps.