During August, the majority of countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) witnessed a downward trend in COVID-19 cases, although Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Yemen were still recording high infection rates.
While great strides have been made in the MENA region for the COVID-19 response, the COVID-19 situation for UNHCR globally is the most underfunded of all situations so far in 2021. Only one third of the budget requirements of $924 million has been received, leaving a massive gap in UNHCR’s ability to protect people of concern from the fallout of the pandemic. Evidence from the Mashreq region shows how COVID-19 has aggravated the socio-economic conditions of both those forcibly displaced and their hosts, with consequences on their poverty levels.
Specifically, the Compounding Misfortunes report published by UNHCR and the World Bank in December last year estimated that 4.4 million people in the host communities and 1.1 million among those forcibly displaced in Lebanon, Jordan and the Kurdistan region of Iraq have been driven into poverty in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. An update to the report published in March of this year indicated that by the end of 2021, an additional 2.5 million Lebanese individuals and 430,000 Syrian refugees would be forced into poverty, as calculated based on the national poverty line.