WHO ARE YOU | Second high-level inter-regional meeting on the health of refugees and migrants | News
Sharm El Sheikh, March 18, 2023 – In the wake of devastating earthquakes in the Syrian Arab Republic and Türkiye more than a month ago, as well as the ongoing war in Ukraine, which has now passed the one-year mark. For the year, three WHO regional offices this week brought together governments, civil society and health partners in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, for the second high-level meeting on the health of refugees and migrants – a timely meeting to ensure that refugees and migrants have access to health care along the migration route during emergencies and beyond.
Organized by the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, together with the WHO Africa and Europe regions, with support from the WHO Health and Migration Programme, the objective of this meeting is to advance the implementation of the strategic priorities agreed at last year’s high-level meeting on the health of refugees and migrants in Türkiye, through inter-regional cooperation as part of the approach. overview. It will also reaffirm its commitment to the “WHO Global Plan of Action on Promoting the Health of Refugees and Migrants”, as well as share concrete progress in promoting the health of refugees. refugees and migrants in three regions.
Covering a total of 122 countries and territories, 3 WHO regions have seen or been affected by large-scale migration and population displacement resulting from a variety of factors in recent years. , both inside and outside their territory. This year marks 12 years since the beginning of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic and one year since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Many other crises are also underway, including those caused by climate change. An estimated 171 million refugees and migrants are currently being hosted in countries across the three regions – almost two-thirds of all refugees and migrants globally.
Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said: “In a region facing a protracted emergency, refugees and migrants are a frequent feature of our society, but in many cases they are still among the most vulnerable and neglected. “A holistic approach to the health of refugees and migrants is essential to a comprehensive health system, a step towards universal health coverage and an integral part of in our regional vision of health for all.”
Over the past month, WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean and European regions have come together to face one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent years, with more than 26 million people affected by the earthquake. large-scale land in Türkiye caused widespread damage both there and in Syria. Arab Republic. The situation remains dire, with millions forced from their homes in both countries and increasing pressure on the already fragile health system in the Syrian Arab Republic. In Türkiye, 1.7 million Syrian refugees living under temporary protection were also affected. In the Syrian Arab Republic, 5.3 million people are thought to be in need of shelter assistance, including many who have been previously displaced and are currently in unsafe and unsafe housing.
“Although this week’s meeting was planned long before this tragic disaster, the situation underscores the urgent need for continued three-regional cooperation on the health of migrants and refugees that has been started last year with the first high-level meeting in Istanbul,” noted Dr. Al-. Mandhari. “We are committed to working together to address health injustices affecting migrant and refugee communities across our regions.”
The Eastern Mediterranean is the WHO Region with the largest number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). More than half of all refugees globally originate from within the Region, the majority of whom remain in the Region.
Many of those in vulnerable situations continue to face poor health, including mental health, due to poor living and working conditions, forms of discrimination differences, exposure to violence and lack of access to timely and high-quality health care during road migration, among other factors.
Weak and overwhelmed health systems as well as significant shortages of the health workforce present challenges. Although universal health coverage has long been a core commitment of WHO Member States in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe, many refugees and migrants remain abandoned. in national and local health strategies.
“In the WHO European Region, we are currently responding to the earthquake in Türkiye – one of our 53 member countries – as well as continuing to address the largest displacement in the Region since World War II with more than 8 million refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe. It is clear that from emergency responses to long-term efforts to achieve universal health coverage, we must include both refugees and migrants. To do this, we need to take a dual approach: better prepare for and respond to health emergencies, while providing comprehensive daily health services for all. everyone,” emphasized Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
“Without taking into account migrants and refugees, we cannot achieve universal health coverage. We must integrate their health needs in all our programs; It is a core part of protecting the human rights of migrants,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
This meeting echoed commitments to prioritize the health of refugees and migrants across international and regional agendas, underpinned by the principles of solidarity, humanity, human rights and development. lasting.
“The WHO Africa, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean regions, and the participants in this meeting, are committed to working together to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage, while promoting universal health coverage. promote the inclusion of refugees and migrants in national health policies and plans on migration routes and in a humanitarian environment,” stated a statement on the outcome of the meeting.
The statement also states that “representatives are also committed to working together to strengthen partnerships and identify opportunities for cooperation on migration routes to address some of the most pressing issues we face.” These include climate change, the root causes of forced displacement, and access to health. care for refugees and illegal migrants.”
The event contributed to a discussion co-organized by the WHO Health and Migration Program, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Ma. Morocco by the end of 2023 during the third Global Consultation on the Health of Refugees and Migrants.
The second high-level inter-regional meeting was supported by the UHC Partnership, one of WHO’s largest platforms for international cooperation on UHC and primary health care. It is funded by Belgium, Canada, European Union, Germany, Luxembourg – Aid & Development, Ireland – Irish Aid, France – Ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères, Japan – Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare UK and UK – Office of Foreign Affairs, Commonwealth & Development.
*For detailed information about the meeting result announcement, please contact:
Strategic communication for the Health sector
WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean
WHO Regional Office for Europe