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The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Director General,
Mr. Antonio Vitorino; has said coronavirus has become
catastrophic for 64.2 million people seeking refuge from global
violence or disasters in camps.

According to him, there are a total of 41.3 million Internally
Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 25.9 million refugees living in
situations of displacement globally.

In Nigeria, over 300, 000 of its refugees, are in Cameroon, Niger and
Chad, after being sacked by Boko Haram insurgents in the last six

Vitorino in a statement Tuesday in Maiduguri; disclosed that most
vulnerable people; end up in IDP camps and host communities of
insurgency affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

This informed the United Nations agency to currently adapt its global
operations in anticipation of an outbreak of the COVID-19 in camps
where it could be prevented.

He declared that; “Based on decades of experience in camp management
and migration health, we see the arrival of COVID-19 as inevitability,
not a possibility, and have been preparing with this in mind.

“The fact that cases have been identified in a Mainland Greece camp
administered by IOM (on Friday) emphatically drives home the gravity
of the situation.

“As co-lead of the global Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM)
Cluster, IOM works alongside governments to care for and uphold the
rights of people in camps or camp-like settings.”

He said last year, the UN migration agency carried out CCCM activities
in 1,117 displacement sites in 23 countries.

According to him, after the CCCM activities, 2.4 million people were
reached with the provision of health services to 2.8 million people

As cases begin to emerge in countries dealing with severe displacement
crises such as Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Greece and Syria,
IOM is increasingly concerned about the impact COVID-19 will have on
the health of people living and working in the camps and in host

He warned that COVID-19-related restrictions will frustrate the
delivery of humanitarian assistance to those who rely for their

“Mobility restrictions within camps could also hamper the ability for
camp populations to work and provide for themselves and their
families,” he noted.

On preventive measures, he said: “IOM’s Migration Health and CCCM
teams are working with authorities around the world to implement
measures that prevent the spread of COVID-19 in camps.

“This is to ensure that our operations remain safe and effective,”
noting that physical distancing and isolation are extremely difficult
in densely populated, overcrowded camps where land is already limited.

He said most people do not have adequate access to the clean water and
sanitizing agents necessary to stop widespread transmission, nor
access to national health facilities.
While lamenting the deadly virus, he said:

“These settings are
challenging places for the elderly and people with pre-existing
conditions to live.

“The threat this virus has on their health is particularly worrying.

“Health centres inside camps are ill-equipped to respond to the high
numbers of patients who could be infected.”

The migration agency is also disseminating accurate, up-to-date
information about COVID-19 to help dispel myths and decrease

All measures are being implemented in consultation with camp
communities, adapted to local contexts and their evolving challenges.

“We require solidarity and sustained support from the international
community to curb the threat the virus poses in humanitarian settings,
particularly through the interagency Humanitarian Response Plan and
IOM’s COVID-19 Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SRP).”
he said.

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