By Edward McAllister
DAKAR (Reuters) – When Michelle Alfaro left her office at the United Nations in Geneva on March 13, her job finding homes for the world’s most vulnerable refugees was under control.
Four days later, the new coronavirus had knocked it into chaos. Governments across the world announced border closures, lockdowns and flight cancellations. The United Nations was forced to suspend the programme.
“Everything collapsed that week,” said Alfaro, who manages resettlements for the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.
Millions of people have been thrown into limbo by the new coronavirus. Those Alfaro works with had been promised escape from war, violence, conflict or persecution. After submitting to a review process that can take years, and winning a chance to make new lives in countries such as the United States and Canada, thousands suddenly learned – often by phone – their flights would no longer take off.