Medical vulnerability, travel history and lack of sanitation: refugees at risk of COVID-19

“Coronavirus will decimate refugee communities if we don’t act now,” a serious warning from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) that addresses the vulnerable situation of millions displaced people around the world. Secretary General of NRC, Jan Egeland, foresees a “catastrophe” with “devastating” consequence if the virus hits one of the overcrowded and sanitation lacking refugee or displacement sites. The same sentiment was echoed by the Head of Health for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Dr Esperanza Martinez, who said that the spread of the virus would be “impossible to manage” if it reached the displaced communities of Syria or Yemen. Health organizations have made a number of recommendations to protect against COVID-19, but unfortunately many refugees live in a situation in which they themselves as well as their host government cannot follow healthcare guidelines.

News highlights: Hitsats camp shutdown announced in Ethiopia, Attempt to resuscitate EU-Turkey deal, UNHCR bolsters COVID-19 measures

In this week’s news highlights: Hitsats refugee camp closure in the Tigray region of Ethiopia; UN cancels meeting on Eritrea due to Coronavirus; EU-funded road project in Eritrea allegedly uses slave labour; Natasja Bijl’s novel tells the story of an Eritrean refugee; Eritrean persecution of Catholics reinvigorated; the collective trauma of Eritrea’s youth; Somali and Kenyan officials meet to discuss border dispute; EU leaders and Erdogan meet to salvage EU-Turkey deal; UNHCR strengthens COVID-19 measures; Concerns about EU’s new Africa strategy highlighted by aid groups; Greece’s decision to hold migrants on war vessel criticized by HRW; Several EU member states offer to take children in from Greece; Call for better living conditions for asylum seekers in the Netherlands; Suspicions that arms keep pouring into Libya despite embargo; Ramtane Lamamra as possible next UN envoy for Libya; And Sudanese refugees in Niger sentenced for fire in camp.

News highlights: UNHCR closes transit centre in Libya, EU development aid tied to returns, Foreign aircraft carried out 2019 bombing of Tajoura Center, says UN

In this week’s news highlights: UNHCR closes GDF facility in Libya, citing safety concerns; Foreign country involved in the attack on Tajoura detention center in Libya; And refugee and migrant women more likely to experience sexual abuse than men; EU and China projects in Eritrea criticized; Ethiopian government allegedly violates human rights over protest arrests and kidnapping inaction; New Ethiopian navy in Djibouti; Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia strenghten ties; East African countries harmonize labour migration policy; Lack of basic support for refugees in Ethiopia; Illustrated story of an Eritrean refugee; Stories of refugee children from Eritrea; EU allegedly uses development aid to secure returns; Sick children suffer in refugee camp Greece; Naval operation ‘Sophia’ might not change focus as member states disagree; And Open arms saves 237 people in the Mediterranean Sea.