New York [US] : Underfunding has left a “yawning gap” in the UN Refugee Agency’s ability to protect forcibly displaced people worldwide from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Friday.
The emergency tops their list of the 10 most underfunded situations in 2021. Only one-third of the budgeted requirements of USD924 million has been received, according to UNHCR’s Chief of Public Health Section, Ann Burton, who called for more global attention and funding support.
Burton pointed out that the pandemic has hurt forcibly displaced and stateless people in ways that “reach far beyond the risk posed by the virus” itself. Failure “to adequately fund the response only deepens their plight,” she added.
The economic repercussions of the pandemic have led their business and workplaces to close, with their “precarious livelihoods often the first to go”. Forcibly displaced people often do not have access to measures such as distance learning for schoolchildren or subsidies to offset the economic impact provided by governments.
This has meant that people cannot afford to pay rent or afford daily necessities, such as food, which in turn increases the risk of exploitation and gender-based violence, she warned, before reiterating a call for States to include refugees in national social safety nets and for donors to support UNHCR help fill that gap.