Lives of migrants and refugees have been dramatically worsened by Covid-19 – study

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a highly negative impact on the living and working conditions of refugees and migrants, a new study by the World Health Organisation revealed.

More than 30,000 refugees and migrants from different regions around the world participated in the first ever survey to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their mental and physical health as well as their ability to work and support themselves.

The study, Apart Together survey, is a preliminary overview of refugees and migrants self-reported impact of coronavirus.

They were asked to grade the impact on a scale from 0 (nothing at all) to 10 (extreme). The average impact assessment reported was 7.5.

“Refugees and migrants live and work in often-harsh conditions with inadequate access to health, housing, water, sanitation and other basic services,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, adding that it was vital for all countries to reduce barriers that prevent refugees and migrants from obtaining health care, and to include them in national health policies.

The pandemic brought about greater level of depression, fear, anxiety and loneliness according to more than half the respondents across different parts of the world.

One in five also talked about a deterioration of mental health and increased use of drug and alcohol.

Limited access to information due to language and cultural barriers, coupled with the marginalization of refugees and migrant communities, place them amongst the hardest to reach populations when information is disseminated.

Undocumented migrants are often excluded from national health programmes or social protection schemes that could facilitate access to health and social services. Many do not seek health care, including for coronavirus, due to financial constraints or fear of deportation.

The WHO remarked that the report underlines the need and importance of including refugees and migrants in inclusive policy responses to coronavirus.