IOM Joins Global Response to Prevent the Spread, Mitigate the Impact of COVID-19 on Crisis-Affected Communities

Date Publish: 

Geneva – Today (25 March) the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is joining the health and humanitarian community to launch the interagency COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).

The plan is part of a joint response by IOM and its agency partners mandated to address the direct public health and indirect humanitarian consequences of the pandemic on populations in crisis around the world.

Under the HRP, IOM is appealing for USD 100 million to strengthen its response to the global threat posed by COVID-19 in many crisis-affected countries – ranging from Haiti to Nigeria, Syria to Myanmar, Afghanistan to Venezuela, and beyond.

“COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on the health, economy and well-being of people around the world,” said IOM Director General, António Vitorino. “We must not forget the devastating impact this disease will have on the tens of millions of people who are already living in dire humanitarian situations.”

The Global HRP appeals for nearly USD two billion from UN Member States to enhance the ability for agencies to curb the impact of COVID-19 in countries most vulnerable to its disastrous effects.

The HRP will also address needs of more than 100 million people dependent on the UN for lifesaving humanitarian assistance in countries covered by existing humanitarian response plans.

This includes the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for the Syria crisis, the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) for the Venezuela crisis and the Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis (JRP), among many others.

“IOM reiterates the need for migrant-inclusive approaches to the overall COVID-19 response and calls on countries to address the particular needs and vulnerabilities of migrants, regardless of their legal status, in the spirit of Universal Health Coverage,” said DG Vitorino.

“The fight against COVID-19 cannot be won unless the response plans in all countries include migrant populations”

Strategic priority objectives of the HRP include:

  • containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and decreasing its morbidity and mortality;
  • decreasing the deterioration of human assets and rights, while promoting social cohesion and livelihoods;
  • protecting, assisting and advocating for refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants and host communities particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.

The disease is likely to compromise the lives of millions of people in countries that have under-resourced, overburdened health systems struggling to provide adequate healthcare for all. This is particularly worrying in densely populated areas – including urban areas, camps and camp-like settings.

Another concern: COVID-19’s indirect consequences could include a drastic deterioration of state and regional economies, and more broadly, education systems as well as societies’ respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Measures instituted to stem the spread of COVID-19, while necessary, also impact the delivery of humanitarian assistance as the movement of goods and aid workers becomes restricted and people in need face new obstacles to reaching services. The risk of intensified xenophobia and discrimination directed toward migrants and foreigners also remains high.

“This is the time for the international community to unite in combating this terrible virus. In doing so, we must not turn our backs on the world’s most marginalized but instead seek solutions that protect our entire global community,” said IOM DG Vitorino.

Funding will enhance IOM’s efforts to implement the Organization’s  Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SRP), revised last week, which is aligned with the WHO’s SRP and sets out an approach from the lens of mobility that tackles also critical longer-term issues for recovery.

The COVID-19 HRP includes appeals from WHO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHABITAT, UNHCR and UNICEF, as well as the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and non-governmental organizations.

For more information, please contact:

 Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer for the Department of Operations and Emergencies; Email:; Phone: +41 79 403 5365

Yasmina Guerda, IOM Public Health Communications Officer; Email:; Phone: +41 79 363 17 99 

Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela During COVID-19 Crisis: As Needs Soar More Inclusive Measures and Aid Are Essential

Date Publish: 
01 / 04 / 2020


Joint UNHCR-IOM Press Release 

Geneva, 1 April 2020 – With the Coronavirus pandemic testing health care systems around the world, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are calling attention to the challenges facing refugees and migrants from Venezuela.  

“At a time when the world’s attention is focused on COVID-19, and as governments and populations, particularly health workers, heroically come together to combat this virus,  we should not lose sight of the needs of the millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants,” said Eduardo Stein, joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for refugees and migrants from Venezuela.  

“COVID-19 has brought many aspects of life to a standstill – but the humanitarian implications of this crisis have not ceased, and our concerted action remains more necessary than ever. We are urging the international community to boost its support for humanitarian, protection and integration programmes, on which the lives and welfare of millions of people depend, including host communities.” 

The current global public health emergency has compounded an already desperate situation for many refugees and migrants from Venezuela, and their hosts. Funding to support them is urgently needed.  

Many depend on insufficient daily wages to cover basic needs such as shelter, food and healthcare; others have no roof over their heads. With growing fear and social unrest, Venezuelan refugees and migrants are also at risk of being stigmatized.  

Governments in the region have been leading and coordinating the response to ensure those leaving Venezuela can access rights and documentation. But as national capacities become stretched to a breaking point, the wellbeing and safety of Venezuelans and their host communities is at risk.  

Millions of refugees and migrants, and the communities hosting them, continue to need urgent support, particularly as the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic begins to be felt across Latin America and the Caribbean.  

The coordination of the humanitarian response for refugees and migrants from Venezuela is conducted through a Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform (Response for Venezuelans-R4V), complemented by eight national or sub-regional platforms. Platforms are operating through a sector approach with the participation of 137 partners. In addition, WHO-PAHO leads the health-related aspects of the COVID-19 response. 

The Regional Platform has activated a critical revision of all operations in the region to prioritize essential protection and life-saving actions and promote the inclusion of refugees and migrants in national programmes. In close coordination with WHO-PAHO, the R4V is also collaborating with national and local authorities to address the new challenges and deliver basic support to Venezuelan refugees and migrants, as well as to host communities. 

While maintaining physical distancing measures, partners are implementing a number of prevention and response activities in the main locations where refugees and migrants from Venezuela are hosted. These activities ensure people can adequately access information, clean water, soap and appropriate waste disposal. Organizations are working around the clock to find innovative ways to continue supporting the most vulnerable individuals in the current context while also supporting national authorities to set up observation and isolation spaces for potential positive COVID-19 cases.  

So far, the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) launched in November 2019 to respond to the most urgent needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela in 17 countries, as well as the local communities hosting them, has received only three per cent of the requested funds, which could put at stake the continuity of lifesaving programmes throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. 

For more information on this topic, please contact: 

In Geneva: 

Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR ( +41 79 337 7650 

Angela Wells, IOM ( +41 79 403 5365 


In Panama: 

Daniela Rovina, IOM ( +507 6312-8294 

William Spindler, UNHCR (  +507 63827815 

Olga Sarrado, UNHCR ( +507 6640 0185 


For background information please consult the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform website: