The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (Aprrn) calls upon local, national and international COVID-19 response actors to ensure the inclusion of refugees and other migrants in their preparedness and response plans.
Refugees are vulnerable relating to healthcare access, testing and prevention measures as they are confined to restricted spaces without adequate access to life-saving support, reads a statement issued by the organization on Monday.
Inadequate sanitation facilities, limited clean water and overburdened health facilities put millions of refugees and other migrants at risk of the virus infection, frustrating global efforts to slow its expansion and contain its effects, the Aprrn said.
For these reasons, they urged COVID-19 response actors to prepare refugee camps, detention centers and settlements to fight the virus infection and ensure access to national medical facilities.
Immigration authorities were urged to grant temporary leave to detained or restricted populations in order to access healthcare if sufficient services are not available there.
They also urged the authorities to suspend the act of the 'criminalisation' of refugees as fear of detention will discourage them from seeking necessary help which will increase risk.
COVID- 19 response efforts must include refugees alongside hosting communities in planning and implementing support strategies, reads the statement.
They urged that these populations should not be penalized for attending health services without proper documentation and should be included in preventive measures such as mask distribution.
The Aprrn also applauded Bangladesh for efforts to develop a multi-sector response plan to manage risks as well as for providing specialized training to hundreds of health workers and establishing isolation chambers.
The rights organisation also urged the international community to support refugees' preparedness for infectious diseases.