Refugee Experiences in the time of COVID

Each June 20th, the United Nations marks World Refugee Day, an annual event designed to communicate to the wider world why these people need protection, celebrate their contributions and instill empathy and understanding for their plight. As countries around the world still face an uphill struggle against the coronavirus pandemic, the experience of refugees is particularly challenging.


“When the coronavirus pandemic happened, it brought back a lot of memories of war. I was in Afghanistan as a child. That fear of going through that again, that fear of not being safe or being able to provide safety for your family members, is something I think about all the time.” 

Meheria Habibi, “Meet the refugees helping their neighbors through the pandemic,” International Rescue Committee, June 14, 2020


It’s necessary to occupy yourself in order not to be overcome by negative thoughts, so we occupy ourselves with the garden…We are people who lived in villages and countryside and we used to visit neighbors and relatives a lot, but coronavirus deprived us of this and that was very difficult.”

Khokhi Hasso Silo as quoted in Olivia Cuthbert, “Refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan seek solace in camp gardens amid coronavirus lockdown,” The National, June 15, 2020 


“In February, I came back again, this time for a few months. Or so I thought. A month after my arrival, the coronavirus pandemic meant I found myself locked into this small town where two worlds so strangely coexist. Where we had been the ones trying to treat those in the camps like the fellow humans they are, suddenly we have to keep our distance and wear masks to conceal our friendly smiles. Providing aid became the only way to show we still cared.”

—Tia Bush, “Here In Calais’ Refugee Camps, Coronavirus Is Making Lives Even Harder,” Huffington Post, June 15, 2020


“The Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, which has supported the placement of refugees and asylum seekers in apprenticeships, has [warned] that a string of insolvencies could leave apprentices stranded. There are more than 55,000 refugees and asylum seekers enrolled in training schemes across Germany. Those whose right to remain is tied to their roles are allowed just six months to find an alternative apprenticeship or job if they lose their positions.”

—“Refugee apprentices fear for their future in Germany,” Financial Times, June 14, 2020


“About 12,000 refugees arrive in Australia every year as part of the rising tide of global dislocation of millions of people. … [A] new study focuses on the experience of Afghani refugees in Adelaide, finding language and cultural issues, limited income and difficulties in sourcing halal ingredients among barriers and additional stresses in their immigration experience.”

—“Refugees face poverty, food insecurity,”, June 15, 2020


“The emergency in the Sahel is a humanitarian and protection crisis of major proportions, where horrifying violence against vulnerable populations is becoming endemic. The risk of spillover of the conflict into neighboring coastal countries is very real and now exacerbated by COVID-19.”

—Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, June 12, 2020


“Somalis usually like to listen to BBC in Somali, so every family here must have a radio to listen to the news,” Amina says. “We thought, let us also have our lessons through the radio so now we can reach every child in every corner of the refugee camp….It’s only the school that is closed—not studying and revision, and not your books,” she tells them on-air.”

—Jacky Habib, “How Refugee Children in Kenya are Continuing to Learn During the Coronavirus Lockdown,” CARE, April 27, 2020


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