UNHCR warns of dire consequences for refugees from COVID-19 underfunding

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, calls for more global attention and funding support, to counter the impact of COVID-19 on forcibly displaced people worldwide. 

The COVID-19 emergency tops the list of UNHCR’s top-10 underfunded situations in 2021. Only one third of the budgeted requirements of US$ 924 million has been received, leaving a yawning gap in UNHCR’s ability to protect the most vulnerable from the fallout of the pandemic.

Despite progress in many locations where UNHCR is working, we continue to see new cases and people continue to die. While safe and effective vaccines can relieve pressures on health systems and save lives, vaccine inequity continues to hit the hardest in many refugee-hosting states. We know that 86 per cent of refugees are hosted in developing countries. However, some 80 per cent of all vaccine doses have been given in high- and upper middle-income countries.

At the same time, low-income countries, hosting the bulk of the world’s refugees, have the least resilient health systems and are struggling to cope with the needs of their own populations – before we add the extra needs posed by hosting refugees. As UNHCR, we reiterate our call on states to share excess doses with COVAX in a timely way, to address the global vaccine inequity and avoid prolonging the pandemic.

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