UNHCR Asia and the Pacific COVID-19 External Update (9 December 2020)

Highlights by country

South-West Asia


  • Through the cash for protection programme, UNHCR has assisted a total of 7,988 households of the approximately 10,870 households that have been identified so far (from an overall target of 11,400 households).This programme aims to support households with specific needs to help them avoid engaging in harmful coping strategies. Distribution is ongoing countrywide and will continue until the end of the year.

Islamic Republic of Iran

  • In line with UNHCR’s continued efforts to support the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to strengthen the national health systems to which refugees have access, 13 portable ventilators (in addition to 66 ventilators which were previously procured) were imported and recently handed over to the Government. These ventilators will be used in medical centers and hospitals in refugee-hosting provinces. This equipment is part of over 100 tonnes of medical equipment imported into the country by UNHCR since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • COVID treatment in hospitals affiliated with the Ministry of Health will no longer be free, for refugees and nationals alike. UNHCR will continue to monitor the impact on refugees and explore possibilities to support them through cash-based interventions.
  • Even though many of UNHCR’s persons of concern have returned to work or have managed to continue work during the pandemic, they are increasingly unable to meet their basic needs, especially education and health services, due to inflation and reduced business. Many people borrowed money at the outset of the pandemic and, as it has lasted longer than expected, most have not been able to pay back their debts leading to tensions in families and communities.


  • As of 16 November, of the 68,104 vulnerable Afghan refugee families identified to receive UNHCR’s emergency cash assistance, some 45,44 families have received their cash. This intervention with Pakistan Post and Ministry SAFRON mirrors the Government’s own Ehsaas emergency cash program, where vulnerable Pakistani families receive Rs.12,000 (approximately USD 77) to cover a four-month period.

South-East Asia


  • The 2021 Joint Response Plan process is under way, with sectors having conducted peer review of project submissions last week. As agreed at Inter-Sectoral level, the 2021 JRP will have the socioeconomic impact and containment measures for COVID-19 mainstreamed throughout the document and there will be no separate addendum. District Level Consultation on the JRP will take place on 9 December in Cox’s Bazar.
  • Child protection activities have resumed on a small scale in all multi-purpose centers across the Cox’s Bazar camps. This is particularly notable due to the major impact that the suspension of children’s activities and closure of facilities have had on refugee children.


Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees