Who knows how many refugees are suffering already from Covid-19 ? If this virus takes hold in overcrowded and often unsanitary camps, where refugees have little or no access to medical care, the effect will be devastating. Refugees are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Many have already experienced the terror of fleeing for their lives from war and violence. Now there is a new threat to their fragile existence with Coronavirus. How do you practise social distancing or self-isolation when “home” is a plastic sheet or a flimsy shelter crammed close to others in a cramped space?
In Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, the sanitation and hygiene facilities for the thousands of Rohingya refugees are already inadequate. Handwashing is an impossible luxury for the million Syrians trapped on the Turkish border and living out in the open with no formal camp structure to protect them.
As countries shut their borders because of Coronavirus, asylum seekers may be turned away forcing them to return to unsafe situations. The UN High Commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, has said that while countries are rightly adopting exceptional measures to combat the spread of the virus, including travel restrictions and cross border movements “wars and persecution have not stopped.” (Church Times online 24/3/20)
Christian Aid’s Senior Advocacy Adviser for Syria Iraq and Lebanon, Mairead Collins, has been quoted as saying “While this crisis is a global one, and all of us are impacted, we cannot take our eye off those who are in a much more vulnerable situation than us in this crisis.” (Church Times online 24/3/20)
Christians believe that prayer can change things. Please pray that the world does not forget vulnerable refugees and migrants. They need our help to protect and save them from the worst effects of Covid 19.
Lord, we pray for all refugees and displaced people struggling with the threat of Coronavirus. May those who are ill be comforted; those who are fearful, be calm and at peace. Uphold aid workers and humanitarian aid agencies as they seek to provide essential care to refugees in camps in difficult conditions.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.