PROSPECTS: Addressing the impact of COVID-19 on forcibly displaced populations

PROSPECTS' response and contingency plan to the COVID-19 emergency

Web page | 27 March 2020
The world is gripped by a global public health emergency. As the pandemic spreads, the coronavirus has disproportionately impacted the world’s most vulnerable, among them refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people (IDPs). A virus does not respect borders. Nor does it discriminate. Therefore, multilateral organizations, humanitarians, donor governments, and policymaker must respond to the crisis jointly, in a non-discriminative way, to make sure the world’s forcibly displaced people are not left behind.

A new ILO analysis of the labour market impact of COVID-19 reveals a “massive” drop in labour income and a fiscal stimulus gap that threatens to increase inequality between richer and poorer countries. Access the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. Sixth edition

Forcibly displaced populations, including refugees and internally-displaced persons (IDPs), are particularly at risk facing higher rates of unemployment and underemployment.



PROSPECTS in Uganda has launched small business grants towards resuscitation of micro and small enterprises run by refugees and host communities in Arua, Madi-Okollo and Isingiro districts that have been adversely affected by the government measures to control the spread of COVID-19. Read more

Arab States

The ILO Regional Office for Arab States has launched a number of initiatives to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers and enterprises. These have included rapid assessments in the Arab region (namely Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq) to better understand the impact of the crisis on vulnerable workers, including Syrian refugees and host community members and on businesses. The ILO has also been working directly with workers, businesses and institutions as well as national partners to address the changing needs of workers and their employers as a result of the pandemic.


In Jordan, PROSPECTS has been raising awareness among farm workers and farm owners on the dangers of COVID-19 and ensuring appropriate measures are in place to protect workers from infection. This was done through close collaboration with worker committee members, or groups of worker representatives, which the ILO helped establish on 24 farms that it is targeting through PROSPECTS interventions. This initiative reached 1,091 workers, including Jordanian and non-Jordanian men and women. Read more


As part of this initiative, a compilation of selfie mobile videos filmed by farm workers and their employers was produced during the early weeks of the pandemic illustrating some of the measures that are being taken to ensure workers are safe while at work and at home.
In addition, as businesses began to gradually resume in Jordan in June, the ILO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, produced an infographic video designed for workers of all sectors on Occupational Safety and Health in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the animated video here
PROSPECTS has also been working closely with cooperatives to help enhance their role in advancing decent work for Jordanian workers and Syrian refugees in Jordan’s agricultural sector. This has included providing Training of Trainers (ToT) to cooperatives members on tools designed to help manage and advance agricultural cooperatives. The ILO partnered with the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITCILO) to provide a nine-week on-line TOT course focusing on training methods, skills and facilitation of the My.COOP in light of COVID-19 restrictions. Graduates of the training will become part of a pool of certified ILO trainers who will be able to conduct face-to-face courses in the future.  Read more


In Lebanon, PROSPECTS is supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), particularly in the agriculture sector through the injection of funds and development of tools to assist with business continuity plans and retention of jobs for both Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities. The initiative is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the on-going financial crisis affecting the country. During the first year of the programme, the initiative will support 15 small and medium agricultural and food processing companies that employ a total of around 1,300. The programme will provide the companies with training, coaching and financial support. The number of participating enterprises will increase in the second year of the programme. Efforts are underway to adapt the current programme to support businesses to recover in the aftermath of the explosion that ripped through Beirut in August.