We have all been living in an unreal time, something we have not had a chance to prepare for, and which has affected our lives quite badly, the COVID-19 pandemic has also greatly affected the quota refugee system. The government has an annual refugee quota of 850 to 1050 persons per year. In the recent months approximately 300 refugees have been able to arrive, which is considerably less than the amount where Finland was counting on. The pandemic has delayed access to safety drastically. For tens of thousands of people, restricting global mobility means that life as a refugee in awful circumstances is further extended.
How has the coronavirus affected refugees worldwide?
The pandemic has made situations in many countries even worse. Living conditions in developing countries are very difficult and the pandemic has threatened to collapse the health care system of refugee camps. Refugees and other displaced people belong to the most marginalized and vulnerable members of society. They are particularly at risk during this coronavirus disease outbreak because they often have limited access to water, sanitation systems, and health facilities.
UNHCR has been working very hard, in cooperation with many other organizations, to keep the pandemic as low as possible in the refugee camps. They have scaled up their work to keep refugees and internally displaced people safe by responding to the coronavirus with life-saving support, including water, medical care, and hygiene materials. They support communication efforts through existing and newly built community networks and they offer guidance and fact-based information on prevention measures such as handwashing, social distancing, isolation from infected people, and where to access health care services.
“If ever we needed reminding that we live in an interconnected world, the novel coronavirus has brought that home.”