ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia 

Migrant communities in the East and Horn of Africa regions have been most exposed to the coronavirus infections as the pandemic continues to take its toll in the region, said the International Organization for Migration on Friday.

“The number of people infected with COVID-19 continues to increase across East & Horn of Africa. Migrants, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), are among some of the world’s most vulnerable to have been impacted by the disease, compared to non-migrants,” the UN agency said in a situational overview.

As of Dec. 8, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the region stood at 247,693.

At least 1,447 new cases were reported on that day, with the most new cases reported in Uganda (660 new cases, an increase of 2.8%), followed by Ethiopia (440 cases, up 0.4%), Kenya (199 cases, up 0.2%), and Rwanda (62 cases, up 1.0%).

Ethiopia remains the country with the highest number of confirmed cases in the region with 113,735 (46.5% of total cases), followed by Kenya with 88,579 (35.8%) and Uganda 23,860 (9.6%), the IOM said.

It said: “Migrants are more likely to be exposed to the conditions and circumstances in which COVID-19 spreads, which includes poorer and makeshift conditions, overcrowded settings and a lack of access to hygiene.”

“Migrants are also less likely to have access Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical care, and migrants may suffer an over-representation of pre-existing health issues due to a historic lack of access to healthcare,” it said.

“Thousands of migrants are currently stranded across the East and Horn of Africa due to COVID-19 related border closures and movement restrictions,” it said.

Many, it noted, are in need of food, water, medical assistance and transportation.

A regional financial appeal to assist migrant groups in East Africa and the Horn of Africa was launched in April for $71.6 million. So far, 72% of the required funds have been raised.

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