The coronavirus pandemic is spreading worldwide and affects everyone personally. But in fragile contexts, people are especially at risk. Terre des hommes puts in all its effort to keep up development and humanitarian aid for children while protecting communities and our staff from the pandemic.
Tdh and other organisations are not only confronted with the difficulty of keeping their activities for children and their families going, but also with the additional challenge of addressing COVID-19 and the impact it can have on the most vulnerable.
How is Tdh impacted by COVID-19?
Certain programmes are strongly affected. In countries such as Lebanon, Colombia or Iraq, our activities in the education sector are suspended as public schools closed. Some of our projects in the field are delayed because of local restrictions on our work or due to the absence of expatriate professionals who are not allowed to travel. To prevent the spread of the virus, we put our specialised care programme on hold, in which children with complex heart diseases are transferred from Africa to Europe for surgeries.
Which populations are at risk?
Vulnerable children and families are particularly at risk from the consequences of this situation: difficult access to medical care, interruptions in education, increased trauma.
In refugee camps from Moria in Greece to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, overcrowding makes it impossible to practice social distancing and existing systems are not equipped to respond in case of an outbreak. We call on governments to decongest the camps and to ensure public health by putting in place a system that protects residents and improves hygiene conditions.
Refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
“In the already challenging context of the Greek refugee issue, the situation after the outbreak of Covid-19 has become even more complicated. Now we need to be innovative and creative to continue to support the families with children who only have us to count on,“ says George Syrros, senior protection officer for Tdh in Greece.
The situation is also critical in detention centres which are often overcrowded and lack adequate healthcare and sanitation. To avoid a rapid spread of the virus, we recommend that States undertake the necessary measures to protect children’s health in these facilities and establish non-custodial alternatives to detention.
Our health teams around the globe are reinforcing prevention measures, including water and sanitation facility improvement. Messages on hygiene are spread in order to contain the virus. We will continue to strengthen healthcare systems and train healthcare workers who play an essential role in preventing and fighting COVID-19.
Handwashing station in Nigeria
We are adapting our activities so we can keep delivering aid to children most in need. Our online platform ChildHub continues offering online support to social workers and other professionals. Specific training material to equip them to deal with the current situation will be available soon. We remain committed to working alongside children, their families, communities and governments to tackle the consequences of COVID-19.
COVID-19 is deteriorating already fragile contexts. Let’s not forget about the children most in need! Please show your support and donate now.
Photo credits: ©Tdh/J-L. Marchina, D.Xanthopoulos, A.Akande