UNHCR / COVID-19 REFUGEE PROTECTION

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07-Oct-2020 00:01:47
International standards of refugee protection have been severely tested in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s, international protection chief said. UNHCR

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STORY: UNHCR / COVID-19 REFUGEE PROTECTION
TRT: 01:47
SOURCE: UNHCR
RESTRICTIONS: PLEASE CREDIT UNHCR ON SCREEN
LANGUAGES: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 07 OCTOBER 2020, PALAIS DES NATIONS, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

1. Wide shot, Assembly Hall
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection:
“The virus does not distinguish between legal status or nationality. Access to health services does not depend on citizenship or visa conditions. COVID-19 has shown us how fragile many national health services are, and how vulnerable displaced people are to the vagaries of the informal economy.”
3. Wide shot, Assembly Hall
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection:
“While States have a sovereign duty to protect public health, measures that restrict access to asylum should be temporary, necessary and proportionate and should respect the prohibition on returns to persecution and danger. UNHCR has been clear: it is possible both to protect against the pandemic and to ensure access to fair and speedy asylum processes. One does not exclude the other.”
5. Wide shot, Assembly Hall
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection:
“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the resettlement of refugees, as many have noted. The numbers resettled this year have been severely reduced, with the limited number of places made available further impacted by the pandemic, including disruptions to international flights and closed borders. For the first time in its history, UNHCR and IOM had to pause their global resettlement departures. 2020 is expected to be a record low. So far this year, only 11,899 refugees have been resettled by 17 States. Last year, 107,800 refugees were accepted for resettlement, about 64,000 refugees being referred by UNHCR.”
7. Wide shot, Assembly Hall

STORYLINE:

International standards of refugee protection have been severely tested in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s, international protection chief said today (7 Oct).

In a key annual address to UNHCR’s annual Executive Committee meeting in Geneva, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, said measures enacted by governments in response to the pandemic ranged from some of the most humane through to blanket denials of access to asylum and forced returns to danger.

Triggs, said that international standards of refugee protection have been severely tested in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Measures enacted by governments in response to the pandemic ranged from some of the most humane through to blanket denials of access to asylum and forced returns to danger.”

She said,“at the height of the pandemic, 168 countries fully or partially closed their borders with about 90 making no exception for people seeking asylum, seriously limiting access to international protection,” Triggs said.

Some countries also returned asylum seekers to their country of origin during this period, risking refoulement of many in need of protection, while others increasingly resorted to the disproportionate use of immigration detention.

The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme (ExCom) meets in Geneva annually to review and approve the agency’s programmes and budget, advise on international protection and discuss a range of other issues with UNHCR and intergovernmental and non-governmental partners.
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