With school closures, forced isolation, and lockdowns, COVID-19 is having an enormous effect on our daily lives. Entire countries have come to a standstill, and the number of people infected with this new virus, SARS CoV-2, is rising by the day. Experts are warning that the healthcare system will collapse if the pandemic continues to spread unchecked.
“If coronavirus spreads among the displaced population in north-western Syria, this would have devastating consequences for a great many people.”Dirk Hegmanns Regional Director of Welthungerhilfe in Syria
The outbreak of COVID-19 represents a further significant threat to the people involved in our projects. For example, an outbreak in one of northern Syria's crowded refugee camps would have devastating consequences for a great many people, says Dirk Hegmanns, our regional director in Syria. Because of the civil war, there is no functional healthcare system, and the level of hygiene is completely inadequate to the task of slowing the spread of the virus.
Solidarity During the Crisis: Our Work Continues
We now feel the impacts of global restrictions and emergency measures on our everyday work. However, we have the benefit of decades of experience in containing epidemics, such as outbreaks in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and DR Congo during the Ebola crisis, as well as cholera epidemics in Haiti, Zimbabwe and other countries.
The global spread of coronavirus has left our 2,500 employees in our 37 project countries particularly vulnerable. In an audio message received by all staff, Welthungerhilfe's Secretary General Mathias Mogge shared some words of encouragement: “I am absolutely sure that we will be able to handle also this difficult period, but we need to do it together. I truly thank you for keeping our organisation, our programme and our projects running.”
Even at this difficult time, as far as the restrictions allow it, Welthungerhilfe's colleagues continue working with the communities in our project areas. “Although we need to isolate ourselves now, we still need to take care of those not as strong as we are”, added Mathias Mogge.
Hygiene Saves Lives
Regular handwashing is essential to slowing the spread of coronavirus. We are therefore currently expanding our hygiene-improvement measures in project countries, especially in those that lack a basic sanitation infrastructure and a functional healthcare system. We are calling on our many years of experience with WASH measures (water, sanitation, and hygiene) and our established connections in villages to provide people with intensive training and to support local structures.
We are working with our local partner organisations to adapt all measures to the specific needs and situations that present themselves in each area. Welthungerhilfe's efforts regarding COVID-19 are being closely coordinated with local governments, the UN, and other relevant actors, as well as complying with national COVID-19 regulations and response plans.
The people in our project regions need help and support now more than ever. With your donation, you can help us offer people the support they need so desperately right now.