Cologne. As the global community marks World Refugee Day amid the coronaviurs pandemic, Malteser International is calling for more support for refugees and displaced persons . A recent report released by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) ahead of World Refugee Day 2020 has revealed that forced displacement is now affecting nearly 80 million people worldwide – more than one per cent of the world’s population.
“Refugees are one of the groups most vulnerable to COVID-19 but they have the least tools to combat it,” said Ingo Radtke, Malteser International’s Secretary General. “For millions of displaced families living in camps or informal settlements with inadequate sanitary facilities, maintaining social distance and practicing good hand hygiene is almost impossible. The devastating economic impacts of the pandemic have pushed millions of displaced people into an even more desperate situation. Many have lost their income as a result of country-wide lockdowns. Coronavirus has also forced many countries to close their borders and reception facilities. This has resulted in uncertain and dangerous situations for refugees seeking protection.”
Malteser International is delivering relief supplies and lifesaving support in countries like Bangladesh, Syria, Lebanon, Colombia, and South Sudan. In partnership with local organizations, Malteser International is ensuring clean water and soap are available, providing lifesaving information, equipping healthcare workers and facilities with essential supplies and training, installing hand-washing stations, and creating isolation and treatment areas in refugee camps.
“We are doing everything we can to protect displaced communities from the coronavirus,” said Radtke. “But no single organization can tackle this pandemic alone. The international community must unite and ensure that the most vulnerable refugees survive this crisis.”
World Refugee Day is marked on 20 June each year to celebrate the courage and resilience of the tens of millions of people forced to flee their homes due to war, persecution, or natural disaster.
Note to editors:
Ingo Radtke, Secretary General of Malteser International, is available for interviews.
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