Group of nurses look at camera. Syrian refugee students study nursing in Jordan.
© UNHCR/Lilly Carlisle

Refugee Healthcare

Everyone has the right to healthcare, including refugees.

UNHCR connects refugees with primary and secondary healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health, nutrition and mental health services.

Arriving in a new country, refugees often struggle to access health services due to language, financial or policy barriers.

Treatment for ongoing conditions is frequently disrupted during emergencies, while those fleeing the frontlines of conflict or natural disaster may suffer acute injuries or illnesses.

UNHCR works with governments and partners to provide emergency health services, improve local health services, and include refugees in national health systems and plans.

Years of forced displacement can take a significant toll on an individual’s health and wellbeing.

UNHCR’s health programmes include neo-natal care, physiotherapy, reproductive health initiatives, and treatment for diseases like AIDS and cancer. UNHCR also helps displaced people access nutritious foods and clean water.

Treating mental health issues is an integral part of UNHCR’s work. Many refugees experience trauma on their journey to safety, putting significant psychological strain on individuals, families and communities. UNHCR provides psychosocial support to help affected people rebuild their lives.

Louai’s Story

Louai has been a refugee almost all his life. His family fled Palestine when Louai was young and he grew up in Egypt and Libya. It was in Libya that Louai met his wife, Karima. 

When civil war broke out, Louai was forced to flee again. He and Karima found safety in Tunisia, however, Louai continued to travel to Libya for work, and it was there – in 2014 – that he suffered a stroke.

“I was praying for him to wake up,” says Karima. “I was speaking to him, giving him cuddles. I was about to lose my mind.”

The stroke left Louai partially paralysed and dependent on his wife’s care.

Louai’s refugee status made it difficult for him to receive the necessary medical treatment he required.

UNHCR advocated for the inclusion of refugees in national assistance programs and, with support from local partners, secured a healthcare card for Louai. This means he can now access free healthcare, transport and medical equipment, easing some of the family’s stress.

“I was praying for him to wake up. He is the love of my life, he has to wake up.”

Karima, Libyan refugee in Tunisia

Refugee with chronic disease supported to access public healthcare services in Tunisia with the help of UNHCR.
© UNHCR/Hallouli Mohamed Ameur

Our fundraising impact

The majority of funds raised by Aotearoa New Zealand for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.

Humanitarian programs