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Refugees and migrants wearing masks wait to get on a bus after their arrival at the port of Piraeus on May 4, 2020. Greek authorities are moving 400 migrants to the mainland to help ease overcrowded conditions at the camp Moria in Lesbos island.
Petros Giannakouris/AP
Health

UN Plans to Ramp Up Health Services for Refugees During COVID-19


Why Global Citizens Should Care
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is disproportionately threatening the lives of the world’s most vulnerable populations. The United Nations’ Global Goals calls on countries across the globe to protect the millions of refugees displaced from their homes amid the pandemic. Join us and take action on this issue here

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) signed a new agreement on Thursday to strengthen and improve health care services for the millions of people who have been forcibly displaced around the world. 

The agreement is an updated version of a 1997 contract between the two UN agencies. It aims to help protect nearly 70 million forcibly displaced people — refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people, and stateless people — from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Since the 1997 pact, the WHO and UNHCR have worked in unison to aid and protect the world’s most vulnerable populations by ensuring access to health care for refugees across the globe.

“UNHCR’s long-term partnership with WHO is critical to curb the coronavirus pandemic and other emergencies — day in, day out, it is improving and saving lives of millions of people forced to flee their homes,”  Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a press release.

“Our strengthened partnership will directly benefit refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people, and those who are stateless,” he said. "It leads to better emergency response and will make the best use of the resources of both our two organizations for public health solutions across all our operations globally."

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that both the WHO and UNHCR are committed to protecting the health of those who have been displaced from their homes, and the organizations aim to help provide them with the medical services they need.

“The ongoing pandemic only highlights the vital importance of working together so we can achieve more,” Dr. Tedros said.

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The UNHCR has also joined the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which has raised $214 million to date in order to provide personal protective equipment to health workers, set up intensive care units, provide testing kits, support vaccine and treatment research, and more.

From the fund, $10 million will go to the UNHCR to support innovative global preparedness activities and provisions for hygiene and medical supplies in Jordan, Lebanon, Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan.