Refugees are easy targets of the pandemic
In the area of health, the problems were already felt a few months ago when there were dozens of cases of measles in the northern region of the country, due to the lack of vaccines for refugees, which jeopardized the immunity of the population group.
The impact of the disease among refugees may be reflected in other areas of the Brazilian population, such as indigenous tribes. The lack of health protection and the great mobility of populations are of concern to public health analysts. In Boa Vista, capital of the Brazilian state of Roraima and the main gateway for refugees in Brazil, Venezuelans and Brazilians are today working on the construction of a temporary hospital for the monitoring and treatment of Covid-19.
The hospital unit, called “Protection and Care Area” (APC), will have 1,200 beds and 1,000 more spaces for observation of suspicious cases, being built by Operation Reception, a response by the Government of Brazil to the flow of Venezuelan migrants and refugees , and with the support of UNHCR and other United Nations agencies.
“In addition to providing technical advice during the construction phase of the hospital, UNHCR donated 250 residential units (the same ones already used in the shelters of Boa Vista and Manaus) to accommodate patients, in addition to 2,500 beds, mattresses, food and cleaning and hygiene materials A new temporary shelter has been created in Boa Vista to accommodate suspected Covid-19 cases until APC is functioning, “said UNHCR spokesman in Brazil, Luiz Fernando Godinho.
Another of UNHCR’s main concerns has been to provide prevention information to people living on the streets or installed in spontaneous shelters, as well as to distribute hygiene and cleaning kits to face the pandemic, a help that, according to the spokesman, has already reached 15 thousand refugees.
“Across the country, UNHCR and partners have been distributing reliable and accessible information on health habits and practices that prevent the spread of Covid-19. This information needs to be customized, given the specific needs of the refugee population, including on issues idiomatic, “said Godinho.
Unlike other countries that have refused to support more refugees during the pandemic, the UN agency guarantees that the Brazilian executive, led by the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, has inserted the refugee population in the national response to Covid-19, both health issues, as well as economic compensation measures.
“The Brazilian Government has responded to the pandemic, and the refugee population in Brazil is included in this response,” said UNHCR.
Until Sunday, Brazil had 1,223 deaths and 22,169 infected by the new coronavirus, according to data from the country’s Ministry of Health.
Contamination of Indians is one of the risks
The North region, which concentrates the majority of Venezuelan refugees in Brazil, and which in the past few weeks has been the least affected area, has seen the numbers of infected people soar, with the state of Amazonas being at the center of the concerns of the tutelage of Health.
Although UNHCR has not confirmed the existence of cases among refugees, he stressed that he is working with local authorities in Amazonas and Pará to strengthen shelters in those states, especially for Venezuelan indigenous ethnic groups Warao and Eñepa.
One of the authorities’ concerns is the vulnerability of indigenous populations to respiratory diseases, which increases the risk of worsening in case of contagion by the new coronavirus, which has already caused some deaths in these communities.
But not only health requires the attention of the UN agency for refugees, with the economic part spearheading the agency’s priorities. “We are also aware of the economic impact of the pandemic on the self-sufficiency of these people, as many of them have had their sources of income compromised with the restrictions that have been adopted by health authorities,” said the UNHCR spokesman.
“An important action taken by UNHCR and partner entities is to promote refugee ventures during the quarantine period, as they need to maintain business to ensure personal and family income. All these measures benefit not only the refugee population, but also the communities that welcome these people “, defended Godinho.
He concluded: “We understand that the refugee populations in Brazil and in the World have additional needs associated with the situation of forced displacement. We need to redouble our actions to ensure that these people are included in the national responses to Covid-19, and that is why we work to strengthen them whenever necessary “.