As COVID-19 continues to devastate global economies and health systems with no end in sight, refugees and IDPs are among the world’s most vulnerable communities. Already facing tremendous challenges including loss of livelihoods, lack of citizenship, psychological trauma, and discrimination, displaced people in the Middle East must now contend with the pandemic and its devastation on the already-strained healthcare systems and economies of their host countries. Refugees are particularly susceptible to illnesses like COVID due to overcrowding in refugee camps, lack of proper sanitation, food, and water resources, and unprotected movement across borders. Meanwhile, the region’s conflicts, outbreaks of violence, and occupation continue, providing little relief in the most fragile environments.
How are refugees in the Middle East withstanding the virus in countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan? How does the impact of the virus expose existing fragilities in and create new challenges for the region’s healthcare services, particularly for refugee camps, which suffer from overcrowding and lack of proper sanitation? What are the new imperatives for governments and international organizations to provide assistance where it is needed most?
Syria country director, Mercy Corps
Lebanon and Bahrain researcher, Human Rights Watch
Dr. Zaher Sahloul
President and founder, MedGlobal
Randa Slim, moderator
Senior fellow and director, Conflict Resolution and Track II Dialogues program, MEI