Protection challenges and responses to COVID-19 for and by forcibly displaced and stateless people

COVID-19 has highlighted the extraordinary resilience of tens of thousands of forcibly displaced women, men, girls, and boys worldwide who have stepped up to overcome many of the challenges posed by the pandemic. In many locations, they have been pivotal in reaching out to the most vulnerable members of their communities and enabling governments and humanitarian actors to continue to deliver assistance and protection programmes.

Building on the opening session, the virtual protection session will highlight key protection challenges arising in the COVID-19 context and explore constructive ways to address them, including through efforts by refugees and internally displaced persons themselves.
A panel composed of a State signatory to the Convention, a speaker representing civil society, two refugees, and one internally displaced person will share experiences and present opportunities.

Panellists will respond to questions posed through the interactive platform and focus on good practices that support progress. This session will then reflect on ways forward and propose concrete actions to reinforce access to protection and enjoyment of rights for displaced and stateless people.
Attention will be paid to the engagement of refugee and internally displaced communities and the protection risks that come with specific intersectional identities.

Register for the Protection session (This event is by invitation only)

If you are unable to access the registration form, please send an email to [email protected] including your Name, Email address, Job title, Organization, Country you are based in, and whether you would like to pose a question to the speakers (optional).

How to participate:

  • Submit a question for the speakers and/or statement in advance of the sessions either when you register for the session or by sending an email to [email protected], adding the name of the session in the subject line.
  • Submit comments during the session using the chat function of the session available on the app or the Q&A function in the Zoom webinar platform.
  • Submit a good practice related to the response to the pandemic for publication on the Digital Platform for the GCR here.

All contributions (questions, comments, statements, and good practices) will inform the development of the outcome document for the High Commissioner’s Dialogue.

Click here to access our app and learn more about the questions answered during the session.

Switzerland. AHC Gillian Triggs

Ms. Gillian Triggs (Chairperson)

Gillian Triggs is UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. She was appointed on 9 August 2019. Triggs is a highly renowned expert in international law who has held a number of eminent appointments in service to human rights and the refugee cause, including most recently as the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Vice-Chancellor's Fellow and Emeritus Professor at the University of Melbourne.
Triggs oversees UNHCR's protection work for millions of refugees, internally displaced, stateless and other people of concern.
An Australian national, she has previously held a number of leadership roles, including as President of the Asian Development Bank Administrative Tribunal, Chair of the UN Independent Expert Panel of Inquiry into Abuse of Office and Harassment in UNAIDS, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney and as Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law in London.
Triggs has been closely associated with a number of not-for-profit organizations throughout her career, including most recently as Chair of Justice Connect, an organization that connects 10,000 lawyers to provide pro bono advice to asylum-seekers and others in need of legal support in Australia. She is also the author of many books and papers on public international law.

Mr. Barthelemy Mwanza Ngane

Mr. Barthelemy Mwanza Ngane (Moderator of the session)

Barthelemy Mwanza, is a 27-year-old Congolese refugee currently living in Zimbabwe at Tongogara refugee camp. He is the Co-Chair of the UNHCR Global Youth Advisory Council (GYAC), which is serving as UNHCR's consultative group on issues relating to the protection and development of young people who are refugees, internally displaced, and stateless. He has been working with the GYAC as delegate since December 2017. Through this role, he has taken on a wide range of responsibilities, including engaging in consultations with refugee communities; advocacy; identifying good practices; networking; and identifying and supporting refugee projects and programs.

Twitter: @BarthMwanza
Instagram: hindououmar
LinkedIn: Barth Mwanza

 Speakers for the session

Leila Muriithia Simiyu

Ms. Leila Muriithia Simiyu

Leila Muriithia Simiyu is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, practicing as such at the Refugee Consortium of Kenya. She is also the Senior Programmes Officer and the Legal Aid and Psychosocial Officer at the same organisation. 

Twitter: @leila_simiyu


Ms. Ala'a Ali Al Qassem

Ala'a, 28 years old, was a university student in Syria before the escalation of conflict caused her family to flee to the Zaatari camp, Jordan in 2012. She received a scholarship to study Press and Media, graduating in 2019 at the top of her class. She has worked on psychological and social support (StC), and as an outreach volunteer with separated, unaccompanied children (IRC). During the pandemic, she has been work with a radio station, writing about refugees, including on innovation, women's roles, and education.

Facebook: Alaa Alqasem

Maya Devi

Ms. Maya Devi

Maya Devi, 48 years old, was born in Bhutan. In 1992, at the age of 28, she and her family fled to Nepal and resided in Jhapa refugee camp. She has had a physical disability since she was 10 months old. Today she lives with her husband and two children. She is dedicated to her community, working on women's empowerment and disability inclusion. Since 2013 ,she has been the president of the Bhutanese Refugee Association of the Disabled (BRAD), and has conducted trainings for refugees on gender-based violence.

Facebook: Devi Maya Gurung

Ms. Tamara Maksimovna Inzhutova

Ms. Tamara Maksimovna Inzhutova

Born in 1951, Tamara Maksimovna Inzhutova has spent most of her life in Luhansk, Ukraine with her family, working as an engineer. In 2014, she had to urgently leave her home due to insecurity and was displaced to Irpin. She thought she was leaving for a few weeks; however, Tamara and her family have yet to return home. She works with the "Good Deeds Foundation", and volunteers with children at the community center. She also introduced sewing classes for older internally displaced women. During the pandemic, she and other older IDPs sewed creative masks for children and adults. She is the caretaker of her spouse, who cannot not walk and speaks with difficulty.

Facebook groups:

Ms. Maria Fernanda Cevallos Jaramillo

Ms. Maria Fernanda Cevallos Jaramillo

She is the National Director of International Protection of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility in Ecuador, as well as the Coordinator of the Refugee and Statelessness Commission and Coordinator of the Institutional Strengthening Project between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UNHCR. She is in charge of directing, coordinating, and managing Ecuador's international protection policy, refugee and statelessness status determination processes in the field, the services provided to the population in need of international protection, and the statistical information that is generated within this field.

Recording: Protection challenges and responses