Development Health Advice 

‘Overwhelmed’ health systems have little room for sick refugees, migrants, UN agencies warn

In a joint statement released today, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN human rights office (OHCHR) and the World Health Organization (WHO) stressed that refugees, migrants and displaced persons are at heightened risk of contracting the new coronavirus disease.  “Three quarters of the world’s refugees and many migrants are hosted in developing regions where health systems are already overwhelmed and under-capacitated,” the statement reads.  It notes that many of them live in overcrowded camps, settlements, makeshift shelters or reception centres, where they lack adequate access…

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Development Health Advice 

UN chief urges unity in mobilizing ‘every ounce of energy’ to defeat coronavirus pandemic

Ten days ago, António Guterres called for an immediate global ceasefire to help people in war-torn regions receive life-saving aid to fight the coronavirus pandemic.  “We know the pandemic is having profound social, economic and political consequences, including relating to international peace and security”, the UN chief said, in a virtual press conference outlining the impact so far of the ceasefire appeal. [embedded content] He cited sustained restrictions on movement by governments everywhere, and factors that could contribute to rising discontent and political tensions, but maintained that “the global ceasefire…

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Human Rights 

Political prisoners should be among first released in pandemic response, says UN rights chief

The development comes after an appeal last week from the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prevent “catastrophic” rates of infection, as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise worldwide.  To date, there have been more than a million confirmed cases and in excess of 50,000 people have died.  But on Friday, Ms. Bachelet’s spokesperson, Rupert Colville urged States to release “every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners, and those detained for critical, dissenting views”.  He added: “In countries that are doing very large prisoner releases, (they) have not been necessarily releasing those types of prisoners. And that includes Iran, they have released some, but not others,…

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Development Health Advice 

‘Everyone at risk’ as coronavirus cases tick up among migrants and refugees sheltering in Greece

The Ritsona site – a one-hour drive from Athens – about 75 kilometres away – is one of 30 facilities on the Greek mainland that accommodate a total of more than 25,000 people. The authorities have put it under quarantine for the next 14 days after the first confirmed COVID-19 case emerged on Tuesday.  Its residents, including 252 unaccompanied children, have been advised to remain in their accommodation as contract tracing and further testing continues. Equal access to services is critical “Everyone is at risk. Migrants and refugees in Greece are susceptible…

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Development Health Advice 

Burkina Faso crisis and COVID-19 concerns highlight pressure on Sahel food security

Across the Central Sahel in Africa – encompassing Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – more than five million people face severe food insecurity ahead of the coming lean season, according to data released by WFP and other humanitarian partners. The number of food-insecure people in #BurkinaFaso is expected to triple in the next lean season. And with #COVID19 reaching Central Sahel, Burkina Faso has seen the largest number of deaths anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa. This is a crisis layered on top of a crisis. pic.twitter.com/lSKp352kc0 — World Food Programme (@WFP)…

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Human Rights 

COVID-19 should not herald rollback in rights for people with autism: UN chief

António Guterres’s appeal came in his message for World Autism Awareness Day, observed annually on 2 April. People with autism have a right to education and employment on an equal basis with others. We must ensure that a long disruption caused by the #COVID19 crisis does not result in rollbacks of the rights they have worked so hard to advance. — António Guterres (@antonioguterres) April 2, 2020 This year’s commemoration is being held as countries grapple with the pandemic, which is placing persons with autism at disproportionate risk of the…

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Development Health Advice 

Key COP26 climate summit postponed to ‘safeguard lives’

The decision was announced on Wednesday night by the advisory group to the COP26 talks, overseen by the UN climate change body, the UNFCCC, after talks involving the United Kingdom and other countries. UNFCCC said the postponement would better enable all parties to focus on important climate issues while allowing more preparation time. “The world is currently facing an unprecedented global challenge and countries are rightly focusing their efforts on saving lives and fighting COVID-19”, said COP26 President-Designate and the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy…

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Development Health Advice 

COVID-19: International community must step up to prevent pandemic from devastating vulnerable on the run

“An outbreak of a respiratory disease like COVID-19 could spread easily through the overcrowded confines and unsafe conditions typical of many camps or settlements”, Henrietta Fore said in a statement. “Families in these environments would be more likely to get sick and less capable of fighting off the disease because of inadequate services” She pointed out that there are 31 million children who have been uprooted from their homes, including over 17 million internally displaced, 12.7 million refugees and 1.1 million asylum seekers – all needing some form of assistance. …

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Development Health Advice 

WHO concerned over rapid escalation in COVID-19 spread as caseload approaches one million

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there has been “a near exponential growth” in case numbers over the past five weeks, affecting practically every country, territory and area of the world. “As we enter the fourth month since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am deeply concerned about the rapid escalation and global spread of infection”, he stated. Although Africa, Central America and South America have reported relatively lower numbers of cases, Tedros warned that the disease could have “serious social, economic and political consequences” in these regions. “It…

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Human Rights 

Economic sanctions should be lifted to prevent hunger crises in countries hit by COVID-19 – UN rights expert

The continued imposition of such measures on Syria, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba and Zimbabwe in particular, severely undermines the fundamental right to sufficient and adequate food,Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, stressed. History has shown that unilateral economic sanctions generally have dramatic and detrimental impacts on economic, social and cultural rights, she recalled. “As a result, the wellbeing of the civilian populations becomes severely compromised.” The Special Rapporteur also urged the international community to pay particular attention to the situation of civilians trapped in conflict settings,…

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