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Coronavirus - Middle East and North Africa: UNHCR MENA COVID-19 Emergency Response Update #5

  • The United Nations launched an updated Global Humanitarian Response Plan on 7 May 2020, expanding the global plan to fight COVID-19 in fragile countries and increasing funding requirements from USD 2 billion to USD 6.7 billion. On 11 May, UNHCR issued its own revised Coronavirus Emergency Appeal, highlighting additional immediate and prioritized needs of USD 745 million worldwide.

  • In Iraq, the Permanent Committee of the Ministry of Interior resumed renewals of refugee registration documents in its Baghdad office at the end of April, which for now, are benefitting small numbers of Syrian and Palestinian refugees.

  • In Yemen, the number of COVID-19 cases rose this week, with over sixty cases recorded in Aden. In response, curfew measures have been tightened and enforced. At a time when funding requirements for Yemen are at a critically low level, the coronavirus pandemic is an overlapping threat for a country already considered to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. While the health system in Yemen is clearly in a fragile state, UNHCR advocates for the inclusion of everyone, without distinction of origin or status, in health response plans.

  • In Algeria, the Government opened a field hospital in Rabouni on 9 May, to provide health support to Sahrawi refugees living in the camps near Tindouf. The hospital is run by a team of Algerian medical specialists, and in addition to a dedicated COVID-19 service, is fitted out to take on medical emergencies, and offers gynaecological, internal medicine, and radiology services.

  • In Jordan, the distribution of a one-off emergency cash assistance to approximately 18,000 vulnerable refugee families living in urban areas, is starting to help households cope with the economic impact of coronavirus. In a recent survey carried out by UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP, it was revealed that over 90 per cent of refugees living in the Kingdom have less than 50 Jordanian Dinar (USD 70) of savings left. In addition, many refugees who previously relied on the informal labour market for work – around 40 percent of refugees in Jordan – have been left without an income.

  • UNHCR is grateful to donors who have provided generous and timely support to the Coronavirus Emergency globally and to MENA. So far, a total of USD 221.8 million (30 per cent) has been contributed or pledged to the UNHCR Global Appeal.