Refugees

Virus Could Cause ‘Carnage’ Among World’s Refugees, Aid Groups Say

The main tactics recommended to halt the spread of the virus are sometimes impossible for refugees to follow at crowded camps

In this file photo, a migrant stands next to their makeshift tent outside the perimeter of the overcrowded Moria refugee camp on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
AP Photo/Aggelos Barai

The coronavirus outbreak threatens to inflict "carnage" on refugees around the world who often live in cramped conditions, lack access to clean water and are in countries with failing or stretched medical systems, humanitarian aid groups say.

From Syria to Bangladesh to Uganda, the risk posed to people who have fled war and persecution is potentially dire, and only urgent international action can avert a catastrophe, aid organizations told NBC News.

The two main tactics recommended to halt the spread of the virus — hand-washing and social distancing — are sometimes impossible for refugees to follow at crowded camps.

As coronavirus cases and deaths spike in Iran and rise in Iraq and Lebanon, the Syrians fleeing toward the Turkish border are particularly vulnerable, said Harkin Lang, vice president for programs and policy at Refugees International. The crowded conditions could turn temporary camps into "a tinderbox for the spread of the disease," Lang said.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com

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