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Refugee camps, a disaster waiting to happen?

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Refugee camps, a disaster waiting to happen?

As COVID-19 devastates the globe, governments are issuing strict lockdowns to minimize the spread. But what about those without homes? A Swiss think tank estimates that globally there are 70m displaced people.

Countries are already starting to quarantine refugee camps with Greece quarantining two: one near Athens and the other on the island of Euboea. Unfortunately, the cramped and unhygienic conditions in the camps are perfect for the virus to spread. To put the potential damage into context, a diamond cruise ship quarantined in a Chinese port confirmed 650 cases within a month of the first case. However refugee camps such as Moria on the Greek island Lesbos are nearly 10 times as densely populated meaning that the damages could be tenfold.

This density problem has been compounded by the lack of hygiene and vital sanitary products. As these are normally supplied by NGOs and charities but they are already being pushed in their own domestic countries, highlighted by the UK’s recent fiscal package to support charities. This means that refugee camps will struggle to get the hygienic products such as soap which are crucial to combat the spread of COVID-19. Furthermore, if the virus does spread, the camps don’t have the medical capabilities to cope with it. For example, in one Syrian province up to 100,000 people may need intensive care but facilities can only handle 200.

Refugees have already suffered at the hands of dictators but the worst may be yet to come. It will be interesting to see if the countries where the camps are based are able to offer much support or if NGOs will be pushed to their limits.

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Tags assigned to this article:
Moria camprefugee camps and covid-19

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