GENEVA (AP) — The top of the U.N. refugee company says he’s “very apprehensive” concerning the impression of the coronavirus in Latin America, the place hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have fled upheaval at house and will face hardship overseas amongst lockdowns and different restrictive measures to battle the pandemic.
U.N. Excessive Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi mentioned 164 nations have both partially or completely closed their borders to battle COVID-19. Many individuals who flee overseas depend on the “casual economic system” typically involving day work with money wages — financial actions which are in danger as governments ratchet up coronavirus lockdowns.
“In fact, it’s good that nations are taking these measures of prudence” towards the virus, Grandi mentioned. “Sadly, COVID-19, which has been capable of trigger the whole world to grind to a halt, has not been capable of cease wars, conflicts, violence, discrimination.”
“Individuals are nonetheless fleeing their nations to hunt refuge, to hunt safety. This must be thought-about,” he added, interesting to governments.
The impression might be particularly stark for 3.7 million Venezuelans overseas, the world’s second-largest refugee group after the 6.6 million Syrians displaced by their nation’s battle.
The Americas proper now have change into the world’s epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
“One area about which we’re very apprehensive is, in fact, Latin America and South America and specifically the place nations host many hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans,” Grandi mentioned in an interview. “They’re notably hit by COVID.”
The feedback got here as UNHCR issued its annual “World Tendencies” report, which discovered that the variety of asylum-seekers, internally displaced individuals and refugees shot up by practically 9 million individuals final 12 months — the largest rise in its information. That created a complete of 79.5 million individuals, accounting for 1% of all humanity, searching for security amid battle, repression and upheaval.
UNHCR chalked up the surge to a brand new manner of counting individuals displaced from Venezuela and a “worrying” new displacement within the persistent hassle spots of Congo, the Sahel area of Africa, Yemen and Syria, which alone accounted for greater than 13 million individuals on the transfer.
Whereas the full determine of individuals going through pressured displacement rose from 70.eight million on the finish of 2018, some 11 million individuals have been “newly displaced” final 12 months, with poorer nations amongst these most affected.
UNHCR says pressured displacement has practically doubled from 41 million individuals in 2010, and 5 nations — Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar — are the supply of practically two-thirds of individuals displaced overseas.
Grandi additionally famous about 30% to 40% of the world’s refugee inhabitants lives in camps. He mentioned COVID-19 hasn’t affected “in dramatic numbers” camps like these in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh — a rustic that has taken in practically 1,000,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing from Myanmar — or in Africa.
Amid the outbreak, UNHCR has stepped up its “money switch” applications that put cash immediately within the pockets of displaced individuals. Grandi says 65 nations now profit from such applications “and now we have added 40 nations in simply the previous few months.”
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