Refugees at serious risk from COVID-19

Burnet Institute

24 September, 2020

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugees and internally displaced and stateless people is highlighted in new Burnet Institute research showing these vulnerable populations are at serious risk.

According to Burnet’s latest COVID-19 Global Trends and Analyses report, more than 70 million people worldwide have fled their homes due to conflict and unrest, with up to 10 million living in refugee camps and informal settlements.

“Nearly six months into the pandemic, advocates warn the coronavirus has started to find new footholds in some camps, or in dangerous proximity,” the report states.

“For these people, and the millions of others around the world displaced by economic collapse, violence and war, it is often impossible to follow practices such as social distancing, handwashing and isolating those who are sick and most at risk.”

The Global Trends and Analyses report reviews the impact of COVID-19 on refugees in Syria, Gaza, Greece, Kenya, and the world’s largest refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, which is home to more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.

Even Australia is impacted.

The report cites a briefing note commissioned by the Refugee Council of Australia that 22,000 asylum seekers and temporary visa holders will lose their jobs because of COVID-19.

“An inability for asylum seekers and temporary visa holders to pay rent ‘could increase the rate of overcrowded dwellings from this group from 22 percent to 75 percent’, thereby increasing COVID-19 transmission risk,” the report states.

Read COVID-19 Global Trends and Analyses – Refugees, Economic Impacts of COVID-19 compiled by Scott Umali, Professor Mike Toole AM, Dr Suman Majumdar, and Dr Ben Coghlan.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Michael Toole AM

Associate Principal Research Fellow


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