Almost everywhere in the world, certain groups of people more than others experience severe forms of deprivation and discrimination, violence, abuse and extortion, and even detention and incarceration (including arbitrary arrest) due to their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, citizenship status, or sexual orientation. Human mobility has increased significantly during the last two decades, as internally displaced or international migrants seek to escape wars, conflicts, ethnic persecution, political instability, armed violence, extreme poverty, income inequality, and, increasingly, climate change impacts. Many of these drivers of population movement originate in corporate practices (e.g., the continuing international arms trade), government policies (e.g., a proliferation of trade and investment agreements compromising livelihoods), and national and global failures to deal effectively with climate change. Extractivism has led to forced displacement and dispossession of indigenous communities all over the world. Many of those most affected by displacement or forced migration are women and children. Others face discrimination within their own countries and may seek migration or refugee status to avoid violence, including members of LGBTQ+ communities, or those discriminated against based on race, religion, ethnicity, or other minority differences. Aggravation
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these existing social exclusion and prejudice. People of color, people in lower-income households, indigenous communities, unauthorized migrants (especially those in detention centers), refugees and asylum seekers, and prisoners (including political prisoners) have experienced a higher burden of the pandemic. These vulnerable populations and socially excluded groups were heavily impacted in terms of higher prevalence of infections, higher severity of the disease, compromised access to healthcare services, and higher rates of deaths. Mental health impacts, and increase in gender-based violence and domestic violence have also been seen.
Director, Health Department
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
Professor of Social Medicine & Primary Health Care
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Maria Hamlin Zuniga