Open your eyes to the World’s Forcibly Displaced People

A brief literature survey to get insights on the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on the health of asylum-seekers.

ecent studies show that displaced communities are very much vulnerable to the risk factors of SARS-CoV-2 infection when compared to native born[1]. According to the UN Refugee Agency’s recent global trends Forced Displacement report, 79.5 million migrants are forcibly displaced, where 4.2 million people are asylum-seekers [2].

image credits:https://pixabay.com/users/geralt-9301/

Asylum seekers and refugees

An asylum seeker meets the criteria of a refugee and he/she is an individual who has fed their home country to find protection from war, violence, or persecution but is requesting for protection within an entry point [3].

There is a recent study of Capital District Asylum Collaborative (CDAC) [3], researchers analyzed the different forms of trauma experienced by Asylum seekers (between the years 2016 and 2020). They found that asylum seekers encounter beating to the body, rape, molesting or humiliation, forced separation from their family, ailment, and poor access to medical care.

Common European Asylum System and challenges on public health during COVID-19 pandemic

In a joint press release by OHCHR, IOM, UNHCR, and WHO, they amplified the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on Refugees, Migrants, and Stateless where they remind all humanity that no matter what the status, we should safeguard the life of people. The COVID-19 outbreak in the reception centers in the Canary Islands is just one of the examples that underline the challenges to the forcibly displaced people in overcrowded and unhygienic sanitary conditions.

In September 2020, the European Commission proposed a new pact
on migration and asylum
, to nurture the harmony among the Member States, and to foster the EU migration management and asylum course of action.

Only 15 countries have fully operational asylum system with sufficient reception arrangements upon arrival…

As per the data taken (accessed on May 2nd, 2021, CET) from the UNHCR COVID-19 platform, In the Europe region, the State asylum system is fully operational in 15 countries only where sufficient reception arrangements upon arrival are made available.

image credits: https://im.unhcr.org/covid19_platform/

PANDEMIC AND PUBLIC HEALTH — Asylum Seekers are caught between a rock and a hard place…

Asylum seekers are living in shabby living conditions. The unfeasible prevention and control measures put their life in jeopardy. Moreover, access to healthcare is very limited too. In a study conducted during the first 9 months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece [4], the researchers found that the COVID-19 transmission rate among asylum Seekers is higher than the general population. They emphasize that the formulation of new strategies is essential to guarantee the inclusion of asylum seekers in national response plans and COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

In this article [5] authors demonstrate the inevitability of securing the health of pregnant asylum-seekers and refugees during the pandemic where the situations that pregnant refugee women may face are also depicted. According to them, those women may experience a situation where not able to fund medical costs, the resistance to find transportation to clinics, general mistrust of the health care system in a foreign country, a panic of stigma, or lack of language knowledge to communicate with clinicians. Thus such women always forced to come across terrible marginalization when search for antenatal care and this situation becomes worse during a pandemic.

Moreover, in a case study[6], the authors substantiate that the COVID-19 pandemic leaves forcibly displaced people at more risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) where the various aspects of the pandemic on TB are explained. They face vulnerabilities such as higher rates of disease and risk, diagnosis interference, limited access to health care for those infected with the mycobacterium, and undergoing treatment, etc…

This article’s intention is only to open your eyes to the current situation of the world’s forcibly displaced people and to have a new perspective on the refugee crisis during a pandemic. Hope we all can find resilient solutions for these aforementioned issues and make the world a better place to live for this abandoned community…

REFERENCES

1.https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/what-is-the-impact-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-on-immigrants-and-their-children-e7cbb7de/

2.https://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2019/

3.Hanna K, Dasani D, Saad S, Dasani M, Wagner K, Balkoski V. Characteristics of Asylum Seekers in Collaborative Assessment Program. Psychiatr Q. 2021 Mar 10. doi: 10.1007/s11126–021–09897–9. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33689105.

4.Kondilis, Elias, et al. “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Greece: A Retrospective Analysis of National Surveillance Data (Feb-Nov 2020).” Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Greece: A Retrospective Analysis of National Surveillance Data (Feb-Nov 2020) (2021).

5.Pilato, Tara C., Faten A. Taki, and Gunisha Kaur. “Safeguarding pregnant asylum-seekers and refugees during the era of COVID-19.” Journal of Global Health 11 (2021).

6.Knipper, Michael, et al. “The need for protecting and enhancing TB health policies and services for forcibly displaced and migrant populations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” International Journal of Infectious Diseases (2021).

miles to go before I sleep…

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