Refugee Congress Statement on COVID-19


WASHINGTONThe COVID-19 pandemic has doubled in recent days, and has shown that we are dependent on each other, no matter where we live or what we look like.

During this unprecedented public health crisis, Refugee Congress calls on communities to come together to support one another and to ensure that we all — including refugees, asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrants — have access to safe environments, supplies and medical care.

This crisis has global impacts, and now is the time to come together across the globe.

Refugees, asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrants know the importance of coming together during a crisis. We are contributing to our communities in a myriad of ways, as doctors, nurses and other health providers treating and educating people about COVID-19; business owners providing meal assistance to families; chefs providing food to healthcare workers and delivery and service workers ensuring access to the food and supplies we need.

This is not a time for xenophobic or racist rhetoric about the origin of the virus, but a time to look out for one another and work together to reduce the spread of this virus.

During this time, we must also ensure that communities in the U.S. and around the world have access to the safe spaces, food and care they need. We have particular concern for our friends, families and community members in refugee camps and other locations where they may have limited access to medical care.

We are also concerned about the suspension of refugee resettlement and its impact on refugees abroad, as well as family members in the U.S. who are waiting to be reunited with family members. Although travel restrictions are necessary at this time, we urge a commitment to keeping these restrictions temporary. 

We must also ensure the health and wellbeing of asylum-seekers. Policies that bar asylum-seeking put people who are fleeing for their lives in additional danger, and immigration detention centers may create situations where the virus can spread more easily.

The U.S. has a long tradition of welcome for those fleeing violence and persecution. Although unprecedented steps are needed at this time, we must maintain our commitment to providing refuge and ensure that measures restricting refugees and asylum-seekers are no more severe than restrictions facing others. These restrictions should be temporary, and this global health emergency should not result in long-term, permanent reductions or restrictions impacting refugees, asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrants.

We express our concern for the wellbeing and health of Americans and people around the world. We are grateful to the helpers in our communities who are working to care for everyone and urge all Americans to come together during this challenging time to support each other.


Refugee Congress is a nonpartisan national advocacy organization built and led by former refugees, asylum-seekers and other vulnerable migrants to promote the well-being, integration and dignity of all vulnerable migrants. With delegates across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, we use our voices and experiences to inform and influence decision-makers on critical domestic and international issues that affect our communities.

Kacy Kostiuk
Communications Manager
(202) 905-6238