Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara, Yemen, and Turkey
19 out of 20 UNHCR countries / operations are reporting COVID-19 cases in the region
16 million 2020 planning figure for people of concern in the Middle East and North Africa
0 COVID-19 cases reported among POCs in MENA
The COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is fast-evolving. Many countries in the region have progressively adopted measures to contain the spread of the virus.
UNHCR stands in solidarity with all the countries in the region as they face this enormous public health and socioeconomic challenge. Many of these countries are battling an economic downturn while also hosting millions of refugees and internally displaced persons
UNHCR has and will continue to ramp up its response to this new challenge in support of host countries, while ensuring that the most vulnerable are also protected – refugees, asylumseekers, stateless persons, the internally displaced (IDPs) and communities who are hosting them.
National COVID-19 preparedness and response plans are the priority. UNHCR will support and supplement national efforts wherever needed. COVID-19 does not discriminate. It is crucial that all are included and supported in the national plans, including refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, and IDPs. Governments are taking necessary measures to limit the spread of COVID, including limiting freedom of movement, with border closures effective in many countries (11 with partially open borders and seven with closed borders). These measures have further heightened protection risks for UNHCR’s people of concern, impacting on access to safety and to seek asylum.
The impact of these government measures, however, is far-reaching, affecting all. Many have lost jobs and income opportunities or are unable to leave their houses to look for work. Those living in the economic margins of society, including urban poor, and many refugees will be particularly affected. UNHCR has already identified a spike in domestic violence and psychological distress among people of concern arising from isolation or loss of income, and has received reports of more families reverting to negative coping mechanisms.
While COVID-19 is primarily a public health crisis, the secondary socio-economic and long-lasting impact of COVID-19 are in turn deepening a poverty and protection crisis.
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Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).