One year on: How the pandemic has affected refugees, asylum seekers, and migration

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus first began spreading outside China, there was widespread fear that refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people living in camps and densely populated urban areas would be hit particularly hard. 

For reasons that still confound experts, the high death rates predicted in these settings have not come to pass – at least so far. As of mid-February, nearly 50,000cases of COVID-19 and around 450 deaths have been recorded out of a global population of more than 80 million refugees and displaced people.

“What's being reported suggests that what's happening in the Global South in general, and refugee camps in particular, it's not what was expected,” Heaven Crawley, a professor of international migration at Coventry University in the UK, told The New Humanitarian.


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