The humanitarian health crisis
Migrant communities are forced to live in precarious situations compounding their vulnerability to Covid-19. International conventions should ensure they’re protected but instead they’re perilously exposed, with some countries failing to meet their obligations entirely.
Numerous commentators – including politicians – have claimed that Covid-19 ‘does not discriminate,’ but the inequality of the pandemic has become very clear. It is disproportionately affecting minority groups, and among those most impacted are migrants. There are myriad issues that make migrants particularly vulnerable, including pre-existing health concerns, but the conditions in which they are housed, whether in camps, shared accommodation or detention facilities, are a significant factor.
Giorgia Donà is Co-Director of the Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging at the University of East London. She says the ‘conditions in which migrants live often mean they can’t follow public health guidelines,’ and highlights overcrowding, lack of water and sanitation, and shared accommodation.
These are certainly not conditions where social distancing is possible. In Greece, Lora Pappa, founder of local non-governmental organisation METAdrasi, says ‘all aspects of refugees’ and migrants’ ability to take preventive measures remain very poor.’ She says more than 42,000 people are living in facilities intended for no more than 5,000, and the majority are now in wooded areas around the camps. Further, in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos, ‘17,000 people must stand in lengthy queues for hours every day to receive rudimentary food.’
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