International Council of Nurses highlights the vital role of nurses in the care and wellbeing of refugees and migrants

20 June 2019


United Nations World Refugee Day 20th June


Geneva, Switzerland, 20 June 2019 – As the number of refugees and migrants increases, so does the role of nurses in responding to their complex and multidimensional health needs.

The United Nations World Refugee Day is intended to send a message to governments that they must work together and do their fair share for refugees and alert the public to their plight.

Nurses are at the front line of migrant and refugee health service provision, and they have a key role to play in programmes that increase access to health care and enhance the capacity to address the social determinants of health among these populations.

ICN recently intervened on the topic of refugee health at the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva. The intervention encouraged the World Health Organization (WHO) and governments worldwide to continue to work co-operatively with nurses in the planning, implementation and evaluation of strategies and to promote refugee and migrant health.

ICN President Annette Kennedy said:

‘Health is a human right. Nurses play a central role in addressing the physical and mental health challenges of refugees and migrants worldwide. We urge governments to uphold the principle of universal and equitable health coverage for all individuals residing in a country, regardless of their legal status.’

ICN has issued a position statement, Health of Migrants, Refugees and Displaced Persons (MRDPs), which gives guidance to nurses about appropriate care for these vulnerable people.

It urges nurses and others involved in the healthcare of MRDPs to develop their cultural competence, empower and support them to navigate the health system of their host country, and to provide ethical, respectful, culturally sensitive and dignified care.

Many refugees become victims of human trafficking, an issue which will be addressed at the ICN Congress in Singapore, 27 June – 1 July, with presentations by experts, Cindy McCain, Chair of the McCain Institute for International Leadership Human Trafficking Advisory Council co-chair of the Arizona Governor's Council on human trafficking, and Kevin Hyland, the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and Ireland’s representative to the Council of Europe Independent Group of Experts for Trafficking.

Note for Editors

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of more than 130 national nurses’ associations representing the millions of nurses worldwide. Operated by nurses and leading nursing internationally, ICN works to ensure quality care for all and sound health policies globally.

For further information please contact

Gyorgy Madarasz, Press Officer, International Council of Nurses, Tel: +41 22 908 01 16