How WHO is supporting refugees and migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic

The statement comes alongside the news that refugees and no migrants or refugees have tested positive for COVID-19 in Serbia. Extensive collaborative efforts from WHO and the Government of Serbia have seen refugees and migrants provided COVID-19 protection equal to that of the host population in the spirit of universal health coverage.

“WHO is working with governments around the world to ensure supply chains remain open and lifesaving health services are reaching all communities,” said Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Health education materials in 7 languages were distributed to all migrant centres and NGOs that work with migrants in Serbia. Personal protective equipment (PPE), personal hygiene products and disinfectant were delivered to asylum and migrant reception centres throughout the country.

WHO has primary responsibility for promoting the health of refugees and migrants, with a current focus on prevention and responses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Refugees and migrants face the same health risks as the host population, but due to various barriers — geography, facilities, discrimination and costs — they may lack access to the health services required to control and treat illness. A recently published Lancet article[3] warned of the increasing risks facing refugees and migrants, particularly those in camp settings where simple preventative measures like social distancing and self-isolation are harder to implement.

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