COVID-19 is causing further displacement in impoverished areas

A displaced Syrian family rests at one of the UNHCR refugee camps A displaced Syrian family rests at one of the UNHCR refugee camps UNHCR / N. Cubbin

18 September 2020

The pandemic is blocking any possible funding to the most vulnerable populations

The current worldwide pandemic is constricting the funds and aid given to the United Nations Refugee Agency. According to The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Council (UNHCR), the agency has only received about 49% of the monetary aid that it usually does. It currently amounts to just 4.5 billion Euros of the 9.2 billion needed to efficiently assist the most impoverished communities around the world. The current financial gap has wreaked havoc on those low to middle income families in undeveloped countries, which host 85% of the planet’s refugees. Therefore, displaced women and children in particular are suffering the repercussions of the virus which have weakened global economies. 

The main issue at hand is that the lack of cash flow is mainly affecting refugee centres, health, water, and sanitation services to those who need it most. As a result, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the pandemic has exacerbated the internal displacement crisis. Furthermore, a recent report by the UNHCR revealed that the most affected by funding gaps are the following nations: Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Libya, Algeria, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela. These eleven countries actually make up 56% of the UNHCR budget, and without a proper aid package people are thus exposed to the devastating consequences of the virus and virtually to death. 

We can already see the damage reflected in places like Pakistan. Here for example, the agency was forced to cease its operations in the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Peshawar back in March. In Western Africa, violence has largely increased since February causing further displacements in neighboring communities. It seems like there is a perfect storm of sickness, violence, and lack of income in nations where aid and relief is needed most. For that reason, the UNHCR is asking the international community for more “donor flexibility,” in hopes of preventing further shutdowns of other UN relief operations. 


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Author: Sergio Gomez

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