American Univesity of Beirut

Refugees besieged: The lurking threat of COVID-19 in Syrian war refugee camps

​In a recent paper published in Travel Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Kassem highlighted the factors that may lead to the emergence of COVID-19 in Syrian Refugee Camps. He also analyzed the significant ramifications associated with the spread of this disease in the camps. Specifically, Dr. Kassem argued that the camps may be particularly prone to COVID-19 due to congested conditions, presence of chronically stressed populations, limited access to hygienic material (soap, masks, disinfectants), poor water quality, limited access to robust medical and nutritional support, and weak infrastructure. Dr. Kassem also highlighted the need to provide testing and urgent and transparent support to the camps by all stakeholders. He argued that it is possible that some refugees may not report cases for fear of stigma and/ or pressure from hosting governments. Dr. Kassem stresses that the spread of COVID-19 in the camps might lead to severe consequences on the health of the refugees as well as the hosting communities. He concludes by issuing the following statement: “we call for global and urgent support for these disenfranchised populations. The health of refugees is intimately linked to that of their hosting communities and beyond, which is an additional reason to protect the camps from COVID-19 “​

Kassem, I. I.* (2020). Refugees besieged: The lurking threat of COVID-19 in Syrian war refugee camps. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, 101736. https://doi.org/10.1016/j​.tmaid.2020.101736​​


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