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Protecting Refugees from COVID-19 on World Refugee Day

The United Nations designates June 20 as World Refugee Day. This is a day for the global community to call renewed attention to the nearly 80 million men, women, and children that the UN Refugee Agency describes as people displaced by war, violence, persecution, or other emergencies.

According to the agency, nearly 30 million of these people have had to cross national borders for asylum and safety. Most refugees come from Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, and South Sudan, while the top five refugee-hosting countries are Turkey, Colombia, Pakistan, Uganda, and Germany.

Residents living within and around settlements and camps are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to a lack of access to clean, safe water for handwashing.  Additionally, current living conditions often mean that multiple families live together, making social distancing difficult.

Solutions To Help Save Lives

Water Mission and its partners, such as the Grundfos Foundation, have been responding to COVID-19 in countries with high refugee populations, such as Uganda and Tanzania, by implementing critical safe water, sanitation, and hygiene initiatives. Our teams have been providing safe water, coronavirus-specific education resources, and handwashing stations in these communities.

To date, Water Mission has installed more than 900 handwashing stations around the world in high-traffic public places, including health facilities, prisons, schools, markets, and government offices. More recently, this effort included supporting 185,000 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda’s Rhino Camp and Imvepi settlements, as detailed in a recent article by West Nile Web.


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