COVID-19: The Effect on Refugees

April 17, 2020


  • The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to exacerbate the global refugee crisis.
  • National and international responses to the COVID-19 pandemic must include provision for the most vulnerable in societies, including millions of refugees and others affected by wars, persecution and disasters.
  • The principle of non-refoulement is a fundamental tenet of international law protecting refugees. Governments should find ways to reconcile entry restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19 with this principle.
  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (the “UNHCR”) has launched a global appeal to raise US$255 million for its urgent push to curb the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in these vulnerable communities.
  • Governments should remain cognisant of their obligations under international law and should seek to include refugees and asylum seekers in plans to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Please click here to read the full alert memorandum.