COVID-19 impact on refugee camps: 4 ways to help
Posted on March 20 2020
When images are worth more than 1000 words: Jerash camp streets on a Friday afternoon have never been so quiet, ever.
The Jordanian Government has declared lockdown via a Defence Law announcement on March 17th, following the example of Italy and France, ie adopting the strictest interpretation of the social distancing concept: all businesses except the ones considered "strictly necessary" are closed. Private sector employees can be asked to work from home, but not to leave their homes for work. Private individuals can only leave their homes for exceptional circumstances and to buy food. Any abuse can be punished with up to 3 years in prison. There were as of today a total of 69 cases of coronavirus in Jordan, with zero in Jerash camp, the home of over 50,000 refugees and the SEP Jordan home too. We hope this number will not change!
The SEP team have followed instructions and dutyfully closed down the Academy and Workshop. Many SEP Artists are working in their homes on embroidery creations which had been previously distributed, and SEP will find a way to remunerate them for their work in the weeks to come, in coordination with the Authorities.
We are hopeful and confident that such strict measures, taken in the early days, will indeed prevent the spreading of COVD-19 in Jordan. As the Jordan PM said in a statement today, the efforts exerted by the medical personnel, army, security apparatuses, administrative governors, municipalities and the private sector — especially among factories producing medical and pharmaceutical items — are all “a source of pride”.
"How can I help?"
Thank you for having asked this question so many times this week!
The big picture problem is one whereby the population of Jerash camp, just like most refugee camps, is in a structural overcrowding mode, therefore social distancing is hard to implement and the risk of escalation in case of contamination is huge. The more specific issues are the lack of savings - it is hard if not impossible for camp residents to stock up on food, for example as well as the lack of advanced medical care.
Healthcare facilities in Jerash camp: the UNRWA clinic is open for consultations and the private clinic of Dr Mohammad Aradeh has been given exceptional permission to stay open, in case a fast response should be required in coming days and weeks.
4 immediate ways to help:
1. UNRWA needs $14 million to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak over an initial three-month period; UNRWA serve 5.6m registered refugees, ndr. This amount is needed to support Palestinian refugees across the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria : https://www.unrwa.org/covid_19
2. UNHCR protect all non-Palestinian refugees in Jordan and worldwide and they have also launched an appeal linked to COVID-19: https://donate.unhcr.org/int/coronavirus-emergency/~my-donation#_ga=2.266155725.393089181.1584718359-2070143728.1584718359
3. SAMS: established in 2005, the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation (SAMS) is a non-profit, non-political medical relief organization that was founded by a group of Syrian-American healthcare professionals in the United States, with a mission to deliver life-saving services and revitalize health systems during crisis. In 2019, SAMS provided almost two million services for refugees, internally displaced persons, and host communities.
SAMS provides life-saving health care, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) for refugees and host communities inside and outside of camps. SAMS’ Zata’ari Camp Clinic has the capacity to treat up to 230 patients each day, at no cost to the refugee population. It currently faces threat of closure without continued funding, leaving 30,600 refugees without access to nearby healthcare. This is the worst possible timing to close down operations, as both Zaatari and Azraq camp have been "locked-down" last week, to prevent the spreading of the virus and there would be no alternative advanced care facilities in Zaatari Camp.
The majority of Zata'ari Clinic's staff are camp residents, which means the clinic remains operational during the public health emergency. Patients have access to remote consultations with SAMS physicians and, if patients exhibit corona symptoms, the clinic has an isolated room with a separate entrance to treat these cases. SAMS is disseminating information on corona via social media and videos and our PSS team is available over the phone to address symptoms of anxiety and isolation, especially in children.
Check out SAMS website HERE and donate generously: they need north of 600,000$ pa to fully operate the medical facilities in Zaatari camp.
4. On a much smaller scale, SEP is allocating 20$ for every keffiyeh sold to the purchase of sanitisers and disinfectants at the camp. We remain alert in case a bigger response is needed, in which case we will be in touch with the SEP community. Buying online from SEP will ensure that we can continue to pay salaries in Jerash camp through the period in which our bricks&mortar shops are closed and that we can re-start production promptly as soon as the emergency is over.
READ HERE OUR COVID-19 DIARY FROM JERASH CAMP, UPDATED DAILY.