ST. PETERSBURG (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 10th April, 2020) Counties that receive massive flows of refugees and migrants are in urgent need of tools and resources to protect them and provide adequate health care to vulnerable groups under the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the opening session of the online St. Petersburg International Legal Forum, which kicked off on Friday.
"In the rush of procedures and measures, it is critical that we protect our most vulnerable populations. Populations in the humanitarian settlements are particularly at risk. There are few resources and little access to health care and basic infrastructure [...] which put all communities at risk. Countries which have been given responsibility of accommodating these vulnerable populations must be given necessary tools and resources to protect them and to provide them with the support they need," the director general stated.
"Many counties have put in place very restrictive measures. This include closing borders, declaration of a national state of emergency, closing schools and putting on quarantine the entire cities or countries. These unprecedented measures are driven by the desire to protect their populations, to stop the spread of the virus. However, in implementing these measures there is a need to respect human rights and dignity as provided by the international health regulations and international conventions," Tedros stated.
International human rights organizations and advocacy groups have long been sounding alarm over the fragility of migrant facilities before and during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the lack of adequate hygiene conditions and impossibility of ensuring proper social distancing there. Among these countries which accommodate migrants are Spain, Greece, Portugal and others.
In addition, last week, United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also stressed the need to bring about a coordinated international response to the COVID-19 pandemic that would encompass vulnerable communities, including migrants, refugees and internally displaced individuals, as well as aid those who need help.