Middle East Migration: Could it Hasten the Spread of Covid-19?

According to a report at The New Humanitarian, moving populations of people in conflict zones and where governments are weak are particularly vulnerable to a critical health crisis like the coronavirus.

Pakistan has closed its border with Iran

Of course, The New Humanitarian is most concerned with the refugees themselves and less concerned with the citizens of the countries where the migrants may end up.

Countries that seal their borders may be able to ward off the worst of a potential crisis.

I just told you in my previous post this morning, that Turkey is opening borders to allow ‘refugees’ to move through to Europe.

I wonder, is the US screening refugees and asylum seekers especially those from hotspots like China and Iran?

From The New Humanitarian:

How the coronavirus outbreak could hit refugees and migrants

A surge in coronavirus cases outside China has raised concerns the outbreak could be particularly devastating for vulnerable refugee and migrant populations in countries hobbled by conflict.

Over the last week, cases of the illness known as Covid-19 have escalated dramatically in Iran, and new infections linked to the cluster have emerged in more than half a dozen other countries in the region including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.

 

Very cool interactive map! Go here to see it: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/national-international/map-watch-the-coronavirus-cases-spread-across-the-world/2303276/

 

At least 12 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) live between Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey – countries linked to Iran by either frequent travel, irregular migration routes, shared borders, or all three. Iran itself hosts nearly one million refugees, mostly from neighbouring Afghanistan, and an estimated 1.5 to two million undocumented people.

The effects of armed conflict “fragment the public health system and the infrastructure that enables governments to actively perform surveillance of diseases”, said Dr. Mohammed Jawad, a researcher at Imperial College London who studies the impact of conflict on public health.

Dr. Adam Coutts, a public health specialist at Cambridge University who focuses on the Middle East, said refugees are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus or other diseases, due to ”high geographical mobility, instability, living in overcrowded conditions, lack of sanitation and WASH (waters, sanitation and hygiene) facilities, and lack of access to decent healthcare or vaccination programmes in host communities”.

But refugee populations are often left out of disaster and epidemic preparedness planning at the best of times. And simply reaching marginalised refugees and migrants with information is also a challenge.

Politicians in Italy and Greece have already started using the spectre of asylum seekers and migrants carrying the virus across international borders to drum up support for hardline migration policies. But public health experts believe the real risk is to refugee and migrant communities themselves, who face instability, sporadic access to healthcare, and now the growing threat of stigmatisation.

Much more here.

This post is filed in my ‘health issues’ category along with 300 plus additional posts.

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