COUNTRIES are still struggling to mitigate Covid-19's impact on the economy and urging their citizens to continue self-isolation.

This advice is impossible to follow for people who have been driven from their homes altogether.

According to the UNHCR, out of the 20 million displaced people worldwide, almost 40% are refugees. In the Middle East, refugees predominantly derived from Syria and Palestine-

Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan host nearly 3.6 million, 1.5 million and 660,000 Syrian refugees, respectively. Besides, nearly 2.2 million recorded Palestinian refugees reside in Lebanon and Jordan.

The displacement has placed tremendous pressure on the entire region. It has also caused systematic retrogression of refugee rights and their standards of living.

In Jordan and Lebanon, as per national policies, the camps along with the whole country have been placed on lockdown since March.

The UN Covid-19 response for refugees has principally been managed in line with the last governments response.

Refugee camps provide an an ideal setting for any epidemic to spread. Since most camps are slightly more than panicles of tents and deserted buildings, people live in conditions of severe overcrowding.

For instance, in almost 67% of households in Jordan's refugee camps, more than three people share a room. Moreover, access to basic needs such as water, energy and healthcare were already ineffectually distributed in ''pre-corona'' times. The challenge to provide these has now increased substantially.

Secondly, proportionate to the rise Covid-19 cases, instances of xenophobia and anti-refugee discrimination have also increased. in Lebanon, officials have enforced stricter curfews in refugee camps premised on the long standing beliefs that these spaces are 'polluted'.

In line with these parochial notions, at least 21 cities in Lebanon have implemented harsher restrictions on Syrian refugees which do not apply to Lebanese citizens. These constraints have made it hard for health workers to cover refugee camps, frustrating health efforts.

Thirdly, many cities in both Lebanon and Jordan do not have the needed support from the central government to respond to the needs of the Syrian refugees.

Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon rely almost entirely on the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees [UNRWA] support because they are excluded from social services provided by the government.

The honor of raising our voice for the refugees, continues. The World Students Society thanks author : Arhama Siddiqa, Research Fellow, and - a LUMS and Warwick alumnus.


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