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Live updates: Go inside the IRC’s response to COVID-19 around the world

What does it look like to protect the world’s most vulnerable from the novel coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread globally and has reached countries with weak health systems which are less prepared to combat the disease. Vulnerable populations and those living in crisis will be hit the hardest by this outbreak.

That’s where the IRC comes in. We’ve launched coronavirus preparedness and response programmes in over 40 countries, including Greece, ItalySyriaYemen and the United States. From sharing crucial information in Italy to training health care workers in Syria, to continuing our vital mental health support to refugees stuck on the Greek islands, our teams are on the ground responding to the outbreak every day.

Follow this space for the latest on our vital work around the world: 

  • To mark World Health Day, the IRC spoke to four of our health care workers around the world about how their lives have changed during the coronavirus pandemic and what gives them hope even at this unprecedented time. 
  • Through our telemedicine service in our clinic in Cúcuta, Colombia, people can call in to describe their symptoms and be referred to our clinic or other service providers. In just one morning, the doctors and nurses staffing the center saw twelve patients and took fifty calls.

Doctors and nurses at our telemedicine clinic in Cúcuta, Colombia.

Photo: IRC
  • A new IRC analysis reveals refugees and displaced people in camps in Syria, Greece and Bangladesh face a heightened risk of coronavirus owing to conditions that are even more cramped and densely populated than the Diamond Princess cruise—the ship where the virus spread four times faster than Wuhan at the outbreak’s peak. Illustrator and data journalist Mona Chalabi helped us bring that critical information to life:
  • 20,000 refugees are currently trapped on the Greek island of Moria in overcrowded conditions where self isolation is near-impossible. The IRC is providing vital information about COVID-19 to refugees and migrants trapped on the Greek islands, as well as continuing to provide mental health support. 
  • The IRC health clinic in the Za'atari refugee camp remains open amid a national lockdown in Jordan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meet an IRC volunteer delivering vital medicine to refugees while following heightened safety measures.


  • On Monday, March 23, COVID-19 was confirmed in Syria.  
  • Italy has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak as it sweeps across Europe. Refugees and migrants in the country are especially vulnerable. In the midst of the country's lockdown, the IRC is using its Refugee Info platform to share vital information with Italy's refugee population.

Henry is one of the Refugee Info moderators, sharing vital information with refugees and migrants living in Italy.

Photo: IRC
  • The IRC remains committed to continuing to serve and support refugees in the U.S., even as our offices move to remote work. Our team in Denver is working hard to put together and deliver essential supplies—including food—to clients across the Denver metro area.
  • Even before COVID-19, our interactive service mapping and information platform CuentaNos.org provided information on shelter, health, education, and legal assistance for users in El Salvador and Honduras. Today, the platform is used to provide crucial information about COVID-19 to over 140 partners and all users who visit the site.

CuéntaNos, an IRC platform, is shown on a phone in a neighborhood in San Salvador.

Photo: Neil Brandvold/IRC
  • In Boise, Idaho, our teams have translated COVID-19 guidance into eight languages, including Swahili, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic, and are sharing the resources with the community.
  • On March 18, Jordan completely shut down because of COVID-19. But IRC’s frontline workers in Jordan continue to provide essential health services in refugee camps in the country.

IRC’s frontline workers in Jordan continue to provide essential health services in refugee camps in Jordan.

Photo: Marco Aviotti/IRC
  • “For the ten of millions of people who the IRC serves around the world, self-isolating, washing their hands, and getting to a health center if they are in need, is practically impossible.” Our CEO and president David Miliband released a special message on our response and how you can make a difference.