The global coronavirus pandemic has had a worsened impact on the living and working conditions of refugees and migrants, according to a new study revealed by the Worlds Health Organisation.
The study, conducted on more than 30,000 refugees and migrants from different regions around the world, was published on 18 December as the world observed International Migrants Day.
The survey was conducted to assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental and physical health of these people, as well as their ability to work and support themselves. 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.
More than half the respondents across different parts of the world say that Covid-19 brought about greater level of depression, fear, anxiety and loneliness. One in five also talked about a deterioration of mental health and increased use of drug and alcohol.
"Refugees and migrants live and work in often-harsh conditions with inadequate access to health, housing, water, sanitation and other basic services," says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
"It is vital for all countries to reduce barriers that prevent refugees and migrants from obtaining health care, and to include them in national health policies"
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 Covid-19, due to financial constraints or fear of deportation.
The report underlines the need and importance of including refugees and migrants in inclusive policy responses to Covid-19. The aim is to draw of the findings of the survey to expand research and evidence gathering from across the world to better understand how the pandemic has created increasingly difficult living conditions for refugees and migrants.