Impact Report: COVID-19 Response in the Philippines

In the past six months, UNHCR has mobilized quickly to support the government-led response to COVID-19 in the Philippines. Help us continue to deliver sustainable & vital services including health, water, sanitation and hygiene to many more forcibly displaced families.

© UNHCR/Jalanie Pangalian

UNHCR Philippines, with the support of donors, in coordination with partners, and together with other United Nations agencies in the country, has mobilized rapidly and comprehensively to help the government respond to this unprecedented crisis – particularly in communities with refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced populations, and persons at risk of statelessness. They are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, and they cannot be left behind in the response.


Building on its experience in SARS and ebola outbreaks noting that the health crisis is a global challenge that must be addressed through solidarity and cooperation, in March UNHCR endeavoured to mobilize its resources to effectively combat the public health emergency urging governments and partners that the most vulnerable – including refugees, asylum seekers, stateless and the internally displaced – should be able to access health facilities and services in a non-discriminatory manner.

UNHCR has followed the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO) and identified a number of prevention and response activities in displacement situations that include:

Read also: Protecting the most vulnerable families in Mindanao from COVID-19


Together with other UN agencies in the Philippines, UNHCR augmented government response efforts in containing the spread of the pandemic and decreasing morbidity and mortality, as well as ensuring protection and assistance for forcibly displaced populations.

Life-Saving Assistance

  • Providing core relief items, hygiene kits, and personal protective equipment to vulnerable communities and to support duty bearers in their response
  • Ensuring the continuity of direct assistance to refugees and asylum seekers amid the pandemic

Read also: COVID-19 Response in Marawi: “Thank you for not forgetting us”

Community Level Health Awareness

  • Conducting awareness raising sessions and distributing localized COVID-19 information materials focusing on hygiene, respiratory symptoms and signs, referral mechanisms, infection prevention information

Read also: Sama Bajau community volunteer on the frontlines of COVID-19 response


UNHCR joins the government and other humanitarian partners in helping ensure that the people of the Philippines can emerge stronger and be better prepared to withstand future emergencies.

Information Management

  • UNHCR Philippines has a functional cooperation with government agencies in instituting a systematic information management & reporting mechanism that maps displacement incidences to gauge the extent of protection provided to internally displaced persons (IDPs)
  • Information management has become a useful tool in providing targeted assistance as information is derived from evidence-based needs, gaps, as well as displacement trends and analysis gathered by a strong Protection Cluster network

Capacity Building

  • UNHCR is strengthening the information management capacity of government partners to ensure continuity in refugee status determination procedures, protection monitoring, case management, as well as reporting and mitigating potential protection risks for displaced people amid the public health emergency

Quick Impact Projects

  • UNHCR is mainstreaming and integrating the impact of COVID-19 into the planning and design of quick impact projects, which promote community empowerment, help foster peaceful co-existence, and strengthen resilience of forcibly displaced populations.

As we move from rapid response to sustainable recovery, you can help ensure that more forcibly displaced families in Mindanao are better prepared and equipped to withstand future emergencies. In the next few months, the impact of COVID-19 will be integrated into the design and implementation of quick impact projects, prioritizing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities.