Speaking at the annual session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called for the inclusion of refugees in the response of countries related to health aspect. “States generally included refugees in responding to the health aspects of the pandemic. This must continue, and extend to the next, complex phases of the public health response – systematic testing and especially the availability of a vaccine. WHO and other agencies like GAVI and the Global Fund are aware and supportive. Inclusion must also apply to social services, safety nets and measures to counter food insecurity. This is crucial to refugees, their hosts, and the stability of regions with large displaced populations – and an important element to prevent backtracking on the Sustainable Development Goals”, he said.
Grandi also appealed that states should not reduce their humanitarian budgets. Grandi “ a strong appeal not to decrease aid and especially humanitarian budgets” “The months and years ahead will witness – no doubt – increasing poverty and fragilities among those at the margins. Maintaining aid levels will be a relatively inexpensive way to save lives, protect the vulnerable, and help them live in dignity and security. It will mitigate the instability likely to rise from growing pockets of marginalization, which will be much more costly to address late”, Grandi said.
Grandi praised UNHCR staff who stayed and delivered vital assistance in difficult places as the pandemic took hold, and refugees, displaced and stateless people who came together with host communities to keep each other safe. “As we grapple with the pandemic, the climate emergency, and unrelenting conflict, we draw from them much strength, and even in this bleak year – especially in this bleak year – they inspire hope … that together we can – in spite of everything – make a difference.”, he concluded.
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