COVID-19 and the Displaced

World Refugee & Migration Council Literature Review written by Ghazal Zazai

This literature review examines how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the displaced population, both from a health perspective and the wider socio-economic aspect.

The review finds that there is a massive gap in literature as there has not been any in-depth study of refugees, IDPs and other asylum-seekers in the context of COVID-19. Most of the literature mentions them briefly by grouping them as part of other vulnerable groups and pulls evidence from past crises to gauge their vulnerability under this health emergency. This is despite the unique challenges and marginalization of displaced populations, compared to other vulnerable groups who may have full citizenship rights, as well as the unprecedent nature of this pandemic. The search criteria were expanded to include opinion pieces from peer-reviewed journal due to lack of academic literature. The search criteria also included grey literature, which had comparatively more analyses focusing on particular vulnerabilities of this group. However, most of the analyses seemed to also pull evidence from previous health emergencies, so the novelty of the disease could have other vulnerabilities and risk factors not considered in the literature.

The literature review found the following themes mentioned as particular challenges of COVID-19 on the displaced population: the living conditions; healthcare access and vulnerabilities; challenges of disseminating public health information; the socio-economic impact; prolonged displacement; disruption to humanitarian assistance operations; and gender implications.

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