Photo: Jordi Matas

COVID-19 will trigger a ‘Crisis in a Crisis’ for Refugees and Displaced Persons

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) launches its first ever global appeal to address the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak for displaced persons. If no action is taken now, DRC warns that the COVID-19 crisis will have devastating impacts far beyond the immediate health risks.
 
 

29.04.2020

The COVID-19 crisis has already had devastating consequences globally with refugees and displaced persons being among the most vulnerable groups. Many live in overcrowded settings making social distancing nearly impossible and with inadequate hygiene facilities and lack of access to health services.

But beyond being an immediate health crisis, the COVID-19 outbreak is a crisis that risks having potentially fatal consequences for people on the margins of society with limited access to rights and services, among those not least refugees and internally displaced persons.

“On top of the fear of COVID-19 outbreaks in dense displacement settings, we fear that the secondary impact of this crisis can have dire and devastating long-term consequences such as exacerbated poverty, loss of rights and increased risks of conflicts. As always it is the people left furthest behind that are paying the highest price. For refugees and displacement affected people, it is a crisis that amplifies the crisis they already live through,” says Danish Refugee Council Secretary General, Charlotte Slente.

In a recent DRC survey among 867 Syrian refugee households in Jordan only 3% state that they currently have a family member employed, down from 65% before the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, close to 80 % of households state that they do not have access to sufficient food for the coming two weeks. An example that is not unique to Jordan but testifies to a gloomy future ahead for the most vulnerable.

“Figures like these illustrate the immediate and long-term challenges we are facing – and not least what refugees and displaced persons are facing. What we see across the nearly 40 countries in which we are present is that the loss of income and livelihoods among displaced communities is depleting already scarce resources and dramatically affecting their ability to meet even basic needs such as food, rent and education. That is why we label this situation as a crisis on top of an already existing crisis,” says Charlotte Slente.

As a result, DRC appeals for a total of USD 75 million aimed at reaching 6.5 million affected people worldwide.

“Even when the first wave of the virus has passed, refugees, displaced persons and other vulnerable groups will still have to face the protracted negative effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. We therefore call on our partners and donors for their continued support in addressing the basic needs of displaced communities and enhancing their protection– right now, today, but also tomorrow and beyond the current crisis,” says Charlotte Slente.

Note to editors:

The appeal is the first ever global DRC appeal for a total of USD 75 million to respond to the immediate impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and support economic recovery during and post-COVID-19 for displacement-affected populations in 37 countries within the sectors of Protection, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion is (WASH), Basic Needs, Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), Economic Recovery and Community Engagement and Armed Violence Reduction. Estimated number of people targeted: 6,5 million.

You can read more about our COVID-19 work and download the appeal here