NGO: Include undocumented migrant workers and refugees in Covid-19 response plan

Originally published by The Star, Rashvinjeet Bedi on 22/03/2020

Summary

Caram Asia, a coalition of 42 member organizations across 18 countries in Asia, are urging that migrant workers, refugees and their families be included in the national Covid-19 response. Conditions such as ventilation, lack of access to clean water and soap, limited mobility and the fear of authorities as well as the loss of wages all contribute to their vulnerability during the pandemic. Caram Asia goes on to claim that social distancing for this population is simply not possible since they live in packed urban areas and crowded slums.Advocates are urging the government to include migrants and refugees in their financial and health planning of the pandemic response. They are also urging safe repatriation of all migrants in immigration detention centersUNHCR have advocated to the Malaysian government to not arrest and detain anyone with: an expired UNHCR document; in the process of registration with UNHCR; or are undocumented.While official notification on this has not yet been received, UNHCR have been informed by authorities that during this public health emergency, no refugees or asylum-seekers will be arrested should they present themselves at hospitals for screening and treatment.

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