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."
UNHCR has joined the #COVID19 Solidarity Response Fund.— Filippo Grandi (@FilippoGrandi) May 21, 2020
It allows individuals, private sector companies and organizations to directly contribute to the global response, led by @WHO, and to help the most vulnerable, who often fall through the cracks. @unfoundation@e_cousenspic.twitter.com/Ra9N88EzEG
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.
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.