Monday, November 28, 2022

    Photos from inside refugee camps show how they could be decimated by coronavirus

    Photos from inside refugee camps show how they could be decimated by coronavirus

    Gaza refugee camp cleaning precautionsGaza refugee camp cleaning precautions

    GAZA CITY, GAZA – MARCH 16: A volunteer group linked to Hamas carries out disinfection work as a precaution against the coronavirus (COVID-19) at the streets of Al-Shati Camp in Israeli blockaded Gaza City, Gaza on March 16, 2020.

    Photo by Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


    • COVID-19 could run rampant in refugee camps.
    • Human rights organizations are worried that the refugee population won’t have access to resources needed to both prevent and then treat the outbreak. 
    • Violence broke out in a refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, after a case was discovered on the island. 
    • NGO’s asked that the overcrowded camps on the island be evacuated to limit the potential spread of the new coronavirus. 
    • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

    As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the world, many refugee rights organizations and activists are worried what the outbreak could mean for some of the world’s most vulnerable population.

    In a statement, Jan Egeland the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said “coronavirus will decimate refugee communities if we don’t act now” in countries like Greece, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. 

    The concern also extends to countries dealing with crippling civil wars and unrest, 

    “There will also be carnage when the virus reaches parts of Syria, Yemen and Venezuela where hospitals have been demolished and health systems have collapsed,” Egeland said in the statement. 

    According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 70.8 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, of 25.9 are refugees. According to Save the Children, 12 million of those refugees are kids. 

    Erin Taylor, a spokesperson for Save the Children, told Business Insider the organization is working with people on the ground in Syria to set up contingency plans in case of an outbreak. After almost a decade of conflict conditions in the region make it easy for an outbreak to spread out of control. 

    “The reality is that after nine years of conflict, the health system and infrastructure that would be vital in combatting any public health emergency have been decimated. It would be incredibly difficult to control an outbreak among nearly a million newly displaced people in overcrowded conditions hemmed in by vicious fighting. This is yet another reason why a cessation of hostilities in Syria is so urgently needed,” Taylor said

    Here’s how the coronavirus pandemic could affect refugees and the displaced. 

    Refugees tend to live in overcrowded places with limited to no healthcare which means they are especially vulnerable to infectious disease.

    gaza refugee camps covid19

    Palestinian volunteers sprays disinfectant a street at al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on March 16, 2020.

    e virus. There are so far no documented COVID-19 cases in the enclave. (Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images


    Source: Save the Children

    In Greece, the Moria camp in the island of Lesbos has a capacity to accommodate around 3,000 people, but currently it is home to around 20,000 people.

    Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece

    Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece

    Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty images


    Source: Reuters

    The camp is filled with scabies, lice, and respiratory problems.

    Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece

    Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece

    Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty images


    “It’s far from the new life in Europe they hoped for — and it’s the perfect breeding ground for the coronavirus,” according to Vice. 

    Water and soap are limited.

    Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece

    Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece

    Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty images


    A Doctors without Borders medical coordinator told Vice, in some parts of the camp only one water tap is available for 1,300 people. Additionally, soap is not available. 

    There has been one confirmed COVID-19 case on Lesbos.

    Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece

    Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece

    Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty images


    According to The Guardian, fears among those in the refugee camp escalated after Lesbos confirmed it’s first COVID-19 case. There was anger over more people arriving at the camp. Several NGO’s had to reduce or stop their services due to fears of violence, and doctors and journalists were attacked. 

    Violence in Moria camp suspended NGO services.

    Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece

    Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece

    Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty images


    Médecins San Frontières suspended their services due to the violence but were “overwhelmed” with patients after they reopened, The Guardian reported. 

    Rights groups have called for the camps on Lesbos to be evacuated.

    Moria camp Lesbos coronavirus

    Moria refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece

    Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty images


    The group has called for migrants to be evacuated from the crowded camps to avoid the spread of the virus, Reuters reported. Doctors without Borders also recommended the camps be evacuated, according to Vice. 

    While the Greek government suspended “visits and activities of non-state organizations in refugee camps” last week, MSF told Reuters that mostly impacts the work they do inside the camp. 

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