Refugees are an extremely vulnerable population. As the Covid-19 pandemic ravages the globe, their status has become even more imperiled. Not only are they fleeing destruction and persecution in their native countries, but they are encountering a potentially deadly virus in the most challenging of circumstances. As human beings, refugees deserve our full attention and compassion during these difficult times.
Refugees are classified as people who face harm and persecution in their home countries and have crossed an internationally recognized border to ensure their safety. There are around 25 million refugees worldwide, with the majority coming from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, and Myanmar. Today, approximately 40 million are displaced people. Refugees in countries such as Idlib and Syria want to leave their original homes because of conflict yet remain in these countries due to unavoidable circumstances.
While the White House currently weighs the number of refugees to be allowed into the US, there is constant warning of the consequences that could occur if we were to decrease the refugee ceiling at this time when we are in such unprecedented global need.
Now is the time to allow refugees for practical and economic reasons; however, we currently bow to political stances.
While many may not realize the things we use created by refugees, it’s essential to know what they have done for the country. The next time you have to search for something using Google, you can thank Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google. Brin and his family came to the US after they escaped the Jewish persecution in 1979.
Refugee Ralph Baer came to the US after escaping Nazi Germany. Born to Jewish parents in 1922, Baer worked as a typist and collected money for bars. Not long after, he took a job at a shoe factory where his boss told him that he would never amount to anything; little did his boss know that he would eventually be the father to the world of video games one day.
Covid-19 poses a grave threat to refugees because of the conditions that they often find themselves in. Many refugees live in camps with limited healthcare and overcrowded conditions. Testing is often limited or nonexistent in these places, as are the ICUs and ventilators often needed to treat severe cases of Covid-19. Many families often live together in crowded quarters, which allows the virus to spread more quickly due to the possibility that if a host country is suffering, refugees in camps will suffer more.
There are currently actions being taken to mitigate the chances of refugees contacting Covid-19 in a closed setting. Some camps are instituting a method known as “shielding,” in which the especially vulnerable members of a group (i.e., those over 60 or those with medical conditions) are moved to a separate location to keep them safe. Schools and other activities that cause refugees to be in close contact are being closed. Educating people about the risk transmission of Covid-19 is also vital: what the virus is and how it can be spread. These methods, however, are only useful if refugee camps provide the social structures necessary to prevent virus transmission and infection.
Ultimately, it is up to all of us to ensure that the most vulnerable are taken care of.