COVID-19 and UNHCR
UNHCR continues to sensitise refugee, internally displaced Yemeni and host community families to better protect themselves against COVID-19.
A month before the first case was confirmed in Yemen in April, all UNHCR’s programmes were adapted to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission. UNHCR incorporated COVID-19-related information in all its awareness-raising and outreach programmes, such as protection assessments, emergency distributions and at cashpoints. Partners’ staff were trained to share information about preventative measures, and leaflets were widely distributed, in line with the WHO and public health authorities’ protocols.
Families living in concentrated areas such as IDP hosting sites and Kharaz refugee camp were sensitised to refer those with symptoms in a humane and safe manner.
Mainstreaming protection in the inter-agency COVID-19 plan and response
The UNHCR-led Protection Cluster ensured that the Inter-Agency COVID-19 Task Force adopted protocols to advise relevant authorities on protection principles to respect in setting up quarantine centres. While recognising the legitimate public health objectives of quarantine especially for those returning to Yemen or crossing frontlines, these protocols reiterated the importance of maintaining the civilian character of such centres, including by locating them away from active frontlines. Access to basic services, including health in case of symptoms, nondiscrimination, unity of family, release upon completion of the 14-day period and principles related to freedom of movement were highlighted especially in relation to refugees/asylum-seekers and migrants.
In addition, the Protection Cluster developed basic guidelines for observations in these facilities to support the work of protection and other partners in identifying individuals requiring additional support. Access to these centres, however, remained limited.