COVID-19: Your Support in Action

Your steadfast support has helped UNHCR bring life-saving aid in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic – to the most vulnerable families in Bangladesh, Syria, Jordan, the Philippines, and many more.

Our work continues across Syria to support the most vulnerable forcibly displaced families. UNHCR and partners distributed hygiene kits containing alchohol, soap, tissues, gloves and masks to protect families from the spread of the coronavirus. © UNHCR Syria

COVID-19 is a global health emergency, but it is also a massive humanitarian challenge for which no precedent exists. It does not discriminate. It is blind to borders and boundaries. As the coronavirus spreads, forcibly displaced populations are at heightened risk. 

As of 23 Apr 2020, there are more than 6,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, and 2.5 million around the world. Around the clock, UNHCR is racing to protect the forcibly displaced from this pandemic. With your support, massive efforts are underway to deliver life-saving supplies, protection, and assistance to forcibly displaced communities.



Since the beginning of this pandemic, UNHCR has been engaging in monitoring, preparedness and contingency planning, particularly in countries hosting large refugee populations and with weaker health systems. With disease prevention hinging on firmly entrenched WASH practices, UNHCR and partners are working on the provision of such services in refugee and host community settings around the world.

COVID Response Highlights_Philippines2

In the Philippines, UNHCR recently gave hygiene kits to the local government unit of Cotabato City, upon its request. Together with its partners, UNHCR also provided tarpaulins that will be used as emergency spaces for the medical frontliners. With your continued support, we plan to reach out to more forcibly displaced communities. We are also planning for the rehabilitation of WASH facilities, the provision of medical equipment to government health facilities, and community level health awareness campaigns. Photos: © CFSI

COVID Response Highlights_Syria

In Syria, UNHCR is reaching people of concern through primary health care centers, health worker dedicated outreach refugee volunteers, and mobile teams. Outreach activities emphasize hygiene promotion, distribution of soap and proper hand-washing, respiratory hygiene, the training of rapid response teams, health staff and community health workers in case definitions, isolation procedures, and referral mechanisms for suspect cases. Photos: © UNHCR Syria

COVID Response Highlights_Jordan

In Zataari and Azraq camps in Jordan, UNHCR has been conducting awareness campaigns and temperature screenings. Essential services including hospitals, clinics and supermarkets remain open, and crowd control measures have been put in place, with dedicated distribution lines and provisions for the most vulnerable. Procurement and pre-positioning of consumables for refugees has taken place centrally to be distributed in-kind, including for those with special needs, specifically diapers and sanitary materials. Photos: © UNHCR Jordan

COVID Response Highlights_IranIraq

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, UNHCR airlifted 4.4 tons of medical aid, including face masks, gloves and essential medicines, to help address critical shortages in the health care system in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Further flights will transport additional aid-items, medicine and PPEs for health workers. In Iraq, UNHCR is procuring personal protective equipment, masks with filters and disposable shoes to use at borders and in refugee camps. Photos: © UNHCR/Farha Bhoyroo/Shaza Shekfeh

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In Brazil, UNHCR and partners established an isolation area in Boa Vista to host suspected cases and are distributing 1,000 hygiene kits, hand sanitizer gels, and COVID-19 monitoring kits to indigenous populations of Venezuelan refugees. In Colombia, our colleagues are assistance local partners in building a quarantine facility to help the hospital cope with coronavirus patients. Photos: © UNHCR/Paulo Lugoboni/Fernando Hernandez Parada

COVID Response Highlights_UgandaKenya

In Uganda, UNHCR is placing handwashing and thermal screening facilities, strengthening communication with refugees on hygiene and sanitation, increasing soap distributions, and training health workers. In Kenya, along with our health partners, we are distributing core relief items, conducting thermal screening and promoting hygiene measures and social distancing at distribution points. Photos: © UNHCR/Fred Muno/Samuel Otieno

UNHCR has been providing refugees with information about COVID-19 and how to protect themselves, including via numerous hotlines; strengthening infection prevention and control, distributing soap and other supplies, reinforcing our stocks, assessing local health needs, training trainers, advocating with governments for inclusion in national health systems, establishing isolation areas, creating more distancing between people.

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Protecting the Most Vulnerable

Given the rapidly changing nature of the situation, UNHCR is assessing and responding to emerging needs in an agile manner and looks to maximum flexibility in terms of pre-defining interventions and areas where resources are allocated. As part of a wider UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan, UNHCR is appealing for US$255 million globally, for its urgent push to curb the risk and lessen the impact of COVID-19 outbreaks in the vulnerable communities over the next nine months.

Over 80% of the world’s refugee population and nearly all the world’s internally displaced people are hosted in low to middle-income countries, many of which have weaker health and water and sanitation systems. Many of them live in camps or similar settings, or in poorer urban areas with limited public health facilities.

“We will continue to expand our critical interventions on the ground. But to do this, we need timely and unearmarked financial support now, including this ongoing humanitarian operations. Coordinated international support is in our common interest and absolutely critical,” said Filippo Grandi.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the biggest threat humanity has faced in a lifetime, and it is accelerating – we don’t have a moment to lose. We need to work faster to reach more families, prevent the spread of COVID-19, and save lives.