Refugee crisis in Europe: update on the situation and WHO response

The large and growing influx of refugees and migrants to countries in the WHO European Region necessitates an urgent response to these people's health needs. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that over 410 000 refugees and migrants have reached Europe by sea in 2015, while 2900 lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea during their dangerous journey.

WHO/Europe's update gives an overview of the current situation; identifies the related public health concerns, needs and gaps; and describes WHO's work in partnership with other United Nations and humanitarian agencies.

WHO/Europe established a task force on migration and health to support Member States and WHO country offices in dealing with the challenges posed by the recent large influx of refugees and migrants.

On 14 September, senior government officials of the 53 Member States in the WHO European Region discussed the public health impact of large-scale migration during the 65th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, held in Vilnius, Lithuania. They called on WHO to continue to support countries seeking to respond adequately to the public health implications, by conducting additional assessments in countries and providing policy advice on contingency planning, the training of health personnel and the delivery of supplies.