During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all vulnerable, but those marginalized, including refugees and others forcibly displaced, are more severely impacted. Refugees, stateless persons, and internally displaced persons often live in overcrowded settings without adequate means to protect themselves.
Cities around the world, however, are stepping up to protect their most vulnerable residents. Initiatives vary from providing free access to health care and direct cash assistance, to placing moratoriums on evictions and rent hikes, and ensuring that all public outreach materials on prevention of COVID-19 are multilingual.
Ms. Gillian Triggs, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Ms. Vittoria Zanuso, Executive Director Mayors Migration Council (MMC), and representatives of cities in the Americas joined us in a conversation on 30 July 2020 from 10:00-11:30 am EDT and we heard more about how cities are implementing inclusive COVID-19 responses.
Access to services: What have been the main challenges faced in enabling refugees to have access to local services during COVID? How did having inclusive policies already in place prepare for the overall response? What additional support is needed as we look towards recovery?
Involving refugees in response: What steps have been taken or are planned to enhance the participation of refugees in cities' COVID response?
Social cohesion and countering xenophobia: What has been done to proactively create connections and positive interactions at the community level prior to COVID? How has this made a difference as the crisis has escalated? How are toxic anti-immigrant narratives spreading along with the virus being countered and how can social cohesion be rebuilt in an era of social distancing?