Tables 1, 2, 3 describe the lists of organizations and databases that are within the mandate and field of forced displacement of persons or communities, globally. However, it was observed in this result finding that forced displacement of persons and communities one year on, the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be specifically monitored, tracked, or commissioned through intergovernmental organizations, databases, or non-governmental organizations based on likely lack of the incorporation of COVID-19 induced forced displacement. However, most organizations tailored their mandates to reflect humanitarian assistance that is worsened by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which no doubt reflects in every facet of human existence. It is imperative that individuals or communities forcefully displaced or would be displaced (i.e. on the expiration of eviction moratorium order) be specifically monitored, tracked, and offered humanitarian assistance in order to reduce the cumulative suffering, morbidity, and mortality resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, displacement of person either on an individual or family level as in the case of eviction moratorium or that of the community as in the case of shutdown of Iraan town in Texas USA (CDC, 2021d; texas.gov.).
4.1 A brief review of disaster types causing forced displacement
Disaster occurring from a natural or a man-made cause and through history has resulted in a number of displacement of people. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck with at least 1,800 mortalities and affected the lives of almost six million people in the United States (Britannica, 2021; Culumbia.edu, 2021). The deadliest cyclone Nargis struck the country of Myanmar killing more than 146,000 people in 2008 (Culumbia.edu, 2021). In same 2008 an earthquake did hit the Sichuan Province in China, killing at least 69,000 people and leaving more than 20,000 without a home (Culumbia.edu, 2021). The cholera epidemic which broke out in August 2008 in Zimbabwe took a protracted course and cause over 98,000 cases and nearly 5,000 deaths and that of London caused almost wipe out the entire residents of London (Culumbia.edu, 2021). Ebola (CDC, 2018) and now the COVID-19 pandemic had caused an even more “complex emergencies” disaster.
4.2 Possible complication of COVID-19 pandemic COVID-19 Induced-Forced Displacement
The COVID-19 pandemic presents a huge challenge to the environment and health of affected communities (Cheval et al. 2020; UNhabitat, 2021). This indirectly impacts communities as a result of the health system failures and or depleted resources following channeling of resources systems for pandemic response and or associated work and school absenteeism caused by the disease or lockdown measures (CDC, 2020, UNhabitat, 2021). Displaced populations get disproportionately affected during the pandemic, by both the disease and these indirect health effects (Columbia. Edu, 2021.b). Thus, suffering, morbidity, and mortality associated with the COVID-19 pandemic become the cumulation of all the resultant events such as aggravation of pre-existing community health burdens-cancer, heart disease, etc, and attendant socioeconomic sequelae-loss of loved ones, jobs, food, and homes/evictions (CDC, 2021e). Given the below explanation.
- Worsened infectivity as a result of the breakdown of public health effort to achieve key prevention measures
- Worsened morbidity as a result of the shutdown of the health system
- Increased in the Death toll from the accumulation of a total collapse of community infrastructures
Lockdown of communities and forced displacement of people leads to further reduction of life-saving measures with an attendant outbreak of mental illness and infectious diseases, civil unrest, food insecurity, malnutrition, socio-economic, political, and economic upheaval (Columbia. Edu, 2021.b; CDC, 2021 a; CDC, 2021 b; UNhabitat, 2021). Fear of contagion and safety are palpable concerns that lead to further displacement even among the displacement population (Iraklis G. 2020; Columbia. Edu, 2021.b ; CDC, 2021 a; CDC, 2021 b). Traditional caregiving structures may be disrupted by displacement and control measures impacting caregivers. It is difficult to maintain continuity of care chronic health conditions, including HIV and TB, in contexts of displacement; this may be exacerbated during the pandemic response (Iraklis G. 2020; Columbia. Edu, 2021.b ; CDC, 2021 a; CDC, 2021 b). Food shortages, that impact on these humanitarian settings increases the risk of acute malnutrition amongst displaced individuals.
4.3 COVID-19 Induced-Forced Displacement most impacted population
Forced displaced usually disproportionately impact on the most vulnerable population in the community. This includes persons with specific needs especially people at extreme age in the community, and individuals with disabilities, immunosuppressed or chronic disease (Iraklis G. 2020; Columbia. Edu, 2021.b ; CDC, 2021 a; CDC, 2021 b). This is in a context that they face unique challenges in the face of a doubling of exacerbation of preexisting conditions and COVID-19 infection risks. WHO estimates that 15% of the world’s population has a disability (WHO, 2020). Displaced persons living with disabilities, including mobility restrictions, frequently rely on public transport to access essential services, including health care and food distribution points which will be absent during displacement from their communities (WHO, 2020; Iraklis G. 2020; Columbia. Edu, 2021.b).
According to UNHCR, (2021), older refugees comprises of 8.5% of the overall population of the vulnerable groups. Older persons have an increased risk of death or severe COVID-19 disease, due to their age. They also frequently have mobility restrictions and other health conditions that place them at additional risk of health complications if their treatment is interrupted (Iraklis G. 2020; Columbia. Edu, 2021.b ; CDC, 2021 a; CDC, 2021 b). Many older displaced people who rely on social support networks to meet their basic needs are finding that assistance has been reduced or withdrawn during the pandemic (Iraklis G. 2020; Columbia. Edu, 2021.b ; CDC, 2021 a; CDC, 2021 b). Social isolation resulting from social distancing and lockdown measures may also place older people at greater risk of psychosocial distress and mental, physical and cognitive decline (Iraklis G. 2020; Columbia. Edu, 2021.b ; CDC, 2021 a; CDC, 2021 b)..
Another set of people that require specific needs are women and children (Iraklis G. 2020; Columbia. Edu, 2021.b ; CDC, 2021 a; CDC, 2021 b). The COVID-19 crisis has contributed to an “exponential increase” in on women and children globally, attributed to an increase in socio-economic stressors associated with the pandemic, social isolation, food insecurity, measures and mobility restrictions that may increase exposure to family violence, and reduced access to support services (Iraklis G. 2020; Columbia. Edu, 2021.b ; CDC, 2021 a; CDC, 2021 b ; UN, 2021). Services to prevent and respond to gender base violence and family violence should be considered essential services, and efforts made to adapt them in accordance with COVID-19 prevention measures (Iraklis G. 2020; Columbia. Edu, 2021.b ; CDC, 2021 a; CDC, 2021 b; UN, 2021).
4.4 Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on displaced population.
Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic along with its complex and compounding effect persecution and conflict had caused forced displacement of over 80 million from their homes in 2020 (UNHCR, 2021). Displaced persons fall into the most vulnerable and marginalized members of the society and constitute higher group following limited access to clean water, sanitation and health care centers (UNHCR, 2021). COVID-19 Global pandemic response disproportionately impact forcibly displaced persons because they mostly have lost livelihood and are most part in poverty (UNHCR, 2021). In fact, over 80 percent of them resides in low to middle income countries or underserved in developed nations. Integrating this groups into pandemic response and keeping them safe present an advantage in controlling the spread and recurrence of disease outbreaks (UNHCR, 2021).
4.5 Pragmatic solutions
Pragmatic solutions will entail the below recommendations and should ideally cut across relevant stake holders of the community and this will include women, youths, religious groups, traditional institutions, civil society organizations, employers of labor, educational institutions, government (federal, state, local and tribal).
- A long-term and sustainable delivery of essential health services and public pandemic response measures is vital to reducing additional deaths, illnesses, and or suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The COVID-19 response must integrate the voices, needs, and priorities of displaced populations, with particular attention to the marginalized and at-risk populations-especially the poor, IDPs/refugees/migrants, women and children and persons with disability or chronic illnesses.
- All interventions should be harmless, with specific attention to contextual needs, challenges, and possible unintended consequences like homelessness due to community shutdown or individual/family housing eviction.
- Extension of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “temporary protection of housing eviction (eviction moratorium)” through the public health emergencies and increase resources for housing and properties owners.
- Consider all context and avoid a “one size fits all” approach. Lockdowns are often implemented with the assumption that everyone have access to social services, safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, communication, electricity, and sufficient food and income. In humanitarian contexts, these requirements are usually so or not met. It is important to ensure that individuals and communities can continue to meet basic needs, through the provision of financial assistance, food, and other support.
- Early COVID-19 induced-displacement monitoring and tracking both at local, state, federal levels, including for evicted individuals and families. Also, data on forced migration should be collected and/or compile through various intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), such as the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), (UNHCR), the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (iDMC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as the international Displacement Monitoring Centre (iDMC). So as to inform humanitarian policies and practice in this complex emergency-pre-intra-post pandemic situation.
- Provision of sheltering service for the displaced persons through NGOs like the American Red cross.
- Establishment of the center for Disease outbreaks induced Forced displacement studies in Universities or research institutes.
- Immediate Establishment of Internally Displaced persons (IDPs) camp, isolation, or quarantine center across all countries to cater for humanitarian needs of persons displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic and are affected by direct or indirect sequelae (loss of housing, livelihood, socio service). Especially on expiration of Eviction moratorium.
4.7 Limitation of Study
This is a quick work to stir up humanitarian policy and practice on COVID-19 induced forced displacement in America and around the world, as such it may be limited in coverage, search strategy, scope, data acquisition, and analytics thus it is expected that further research should improve on these shortcomings. Also, any error in this work is unintentional, and however regrettable where any, thus constructive criticism and contribution are most welcome.