As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world, many refugee rights organizations and activists are worried what the outbreak could mean for some of the world’s most vulnerable population.
In a statement, Jan Egeland the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said “coronavirus will decimate refugee communities if we don’t act now” in countries like Greece, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
The concern also extends to countries dealing with crippling civil wars and unrest.
“There will also be carnage when the virus reaches parts of Syria, Yemen and Venezuela where hospitals have been demolished and health systems have collapsed,” Egeland said in the statement.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 70.8 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, of which 25.9 are refugees. According to Save the Children, 12 million of those refugees are kids.
Erin Taylor, a spokesperson for Save the Children, told Business Insider the organization is working with people on the ground in Syria to set up contingency plans in case of an outbreak. After almost a decade of conflict, conditions in the region make it easy for an outbreak to spread out of control.
“The reality is that after nine years of conflict, the health system and infrastructure that would be vital in combatting any public health emergency have been decimated. It would be incredibly difficult to control an outbreak among nearly a million newly displaced people in overcrowded conditions hemmed in by vicious fighting. This is yet another reason why a cessation of hostilities in Syria is so urgently needed,” Taylor said
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