The IFRC reports seeing an increase in stigmatization around refugee communities in the MENA region.
Rabat – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has highlighted growing concerns over migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).
In a report published on June 19, the humanitarian organization indicates that displaced people are falling through the cracks and facing an increase in stigmatization as the COVID-19 crisis rolls on.
“We know that stigma as well as misinformation could prevent potentially infected people from seeking care – and this needs to be taken just as seriously as the virus itself,” said Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, head of the IFRC for the MENA region.
The organizations list discrimination, language barriers, and legal status as relevant challenges that can prevent people from exercising prevention measures and accessing health information.
“We know that migrants, refugees and internally displaced people are amongst the most vulnerable people in the region, and amongst that group especially women and children,” Elsharkawi explained.
“They are particularly at risk for health complications and violence, their temporary accommodation can be crowded, often with inadequate sanitation and shelter or little access to medical care and good nutrition.”
To address some of the issues faced by the region’s vulnerable communities, the Red Cross and Red Crescent have spread their teams across the region to raise awareness, provide translation, distribute critical information, offer food baskets, and share health and hygiene lessons in migrant centers.
Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Tunisia are some the countries reported to be receiving significant IFRC support during the pandemic.
“We know that many displaced people depend on humanitarian assistance for survival, and during this crisis we must continue to look for alternate and innovative ways to deliver assistance, in conditions that protect the health of both displaced people as well as staff and volunteers involved,” said Elsharkawi. “They must not be forgotten.”
The IFRC’s publication, urging greater attention and support for refugees, comes in time for World Refugee Day — a United Nations international day intended to raise awareness on the experience of refugees worldwide.