What does it look like to protect the world’s most vulnerable from the novel coronavirus?
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread globally and has reached countries with weak health systems which are less prepared to combat the disease. Vulnerable populations and those living in crisis will be hit the hardest by this outbreak.
That’s where the IRC comes in. We’ve launched coronavirus preparedness and response programs in over 40 countries, including the United States, Greece, Syria and Yemen. From sharing crucial information in Italy to training health care workers in Syria to continuing our vital work with refugees in the U.S., our teams are on the ground responding to the outbreak every day.
Follow this space for the latest on our vital work around the world:
- Through our telemedicine service in our clinic in Cúcuta, Colombia, people can call in to describe their symptoms and be referred to our clinic or other service providers. In just one morning, the doctors and nurses staffing the center saw twelve patients and took fifty calls.
- A new IRC analysis reveals refugees and displaced people in camps in Syria, Greece and Bangladesh face a heightened risk of coronavirus owing to conditions that are even more cramped and densely populated than the Diamond Princess cruise—the ship where the virus spread four times faster than Wuhan at the outbreak’s peak. Illustrator and data journalist Mona Chalabi helped us bring that critical information to life:
Forced to live in conditions even more densely populated than those of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, many refugees face a heightened risk of #COVID19.— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) April 1, 2020
Data journalist @MonaChalabi partnered with IRC to illustrate the risks. RT to get the facts out. https://t.co/QlysCEp3RG pic.twitter.com/JSPp0yk3av
- The IRC health clinic in the Za'atari refugee camp remains open amid a national lockdown in Jordan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meet an IRC volunteer delivering vital medicine to refugees while following heightened safety measures.
- IRC offices in New York and New Jersey are partnering with World Central Kitchen and Chef José Andrés to provide free grab-and-go meals to local families in need. See our work in action in Brooklyn:
- From handwashing to personal protective equipment (PPE), the IRC is dedicated to combating COVID-19 while continuing to help those we serve. Our new video highlights our work in Kenya's Kakuma camp, home to some 194,000 refugees.
- There are many lessons from the response to the Ebola outbreak that can and must be applied in our response to the coronavirus. The head of the IRC’s health unit, Dr. Mesfin Teklu Tessema, outlined these critical lessons in Newsweek.
Community trust, mental health care, a consideration of women’s unique needs, multilateral coordination, and preparedness. Our Senior Director of Health @Mesfinteklu explains what the Ebola outbreak can teach us as we combat #COVID19: https://t.co/JEKrqaLuXD— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) March 27, 2020
- The IRC is working to train staff and our clients to protect themselves and mitigate risk of disease spread in communities where we work. Here an IRC doctor demonstrates the proper way to put on gloves for health care workers and volunteers in an IRC health facility in Bangladesh.
- In Cúcuta, Colombia, the IRC set up a health call center run by doctors and nurses. Below, medical staff take a quick selfie in between appointments. Also in Colombia, staff in Medellín practice "foot greetings" (to limit physical contact and maintain distance), after distributing cash programming to 68 beneficiaries.
Also in Colombia: staff in Medellín practiced "foot greetings" in between sessions. pic.twitter.com/UA7Z8tq8CC— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) March 25, 2020
- In Kakuma Refugee Camp in Northern Kenya, the IRC has trained health workers on COVID-19 and how to protect themselves, and reinforced proper hygiene and self isolation procedures. Here a Community Health Worker gives a presentation to the community.
- As the world marked five years of war in Yemen, the IRC raised the alarm about the threat that a COVID-19 outbreak poses to the country and the need for international aid and a ceasefire.
Today marks 5yrs of conflict in #Yemen. Latest from: @RESCUEorg @RESCUE_EU Coronavirus pandemic threatening to overwhelm an already broken health care system. Ceasefire and aid needed. #YemenCantWait https://t.co/rTtDOyIKFN— Kelly Razzouk (@KellyRazzouk) March 26, 2020
- Community Health Volunteers in Bangladesh are going door to door to tell people about COVID-19 prevention measures like hand washing and social distancing.
- IRC frontline staff in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan are providing essential health care services to Syrian refugees. Here they share a message from health care workers that has become famous around the world: “I stayed at work for you, you stay at home for us."
"I stayed at work for you, you stay at home for us". #COVID19 @RESCUEorg frontline health workers in Za'atari camp in #Jordan providing essential health services for #Syria refugees pic.twitter.com/30nXtgFuej— Marco Aviotti (@marcoaviotti) March 25, 2020
- Below our team works in northwest Syria, where recent fighting forced nearly a million people to flee their homes and where the IRC provides cash grants to assist the most vulnerable families in rebuilding their lives. The precautions we are taking to ensure that COVID-19 is not spread include limiting the number of people and time spent at our centers, ensuring that our staff are wearing personal protective equipment, and ensuring that hand hygiene gel is widely available.
As #COVID19 spreads globally, our work continues in NW Syria, where recent fighting displaced almost a million people. Here our teams take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus while helping families rebuild their lives. Our work: https://t.co/A0HHRUEKY1 pic.twitter.com/oXKtoeaorn— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) March 24, 2020
- Italy has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 as it sweeps across Europe. Refugees and migrants in the country are especially vulnerable. In the midst of the country's lockdown, the IRC is using its Refugee.Info platform to share vital information with Italy's refugee population. Here a moderator updates the platform with new information.
- On Monday, March 23, COVID-19 was confirmed in Syria.
#COVID19 in Syria could lead to one of the worst outbreaks in the world. In Idlib, for instance, there were 85 attacks on health facilities last year, and the majority of hospitals still open are unable to cope with needs that already exist. Our statement: https://t.co/XQRnx2TuqV— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) March 23, 2020
- The IRC remains committed to continuing to serve and support refugees in the U.S., even as our offices move to remote work. Here our team in Denver is working hard to put together and deliver essential supplies—including food—to clients across the Denver metro area.
- Ever before COVID-19, our interactive service mapping and information platform CuentaNos.org provided information on shelter, health, education, and legal assistance for users in El Salvador and Honduras. Today, the platform is used to provide crucial information about COVID-19 to over 140 partners and all users who visit the site.
- In Boise, Idaho, our teams have translated COVID-19 guidance into eight languages, including Swahili, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic, and are sharing the resources with the community.
- On March 18, Jordan completely shut down because of COVID-19. But IRC’s frontline workers in Jordan continue to provide essential health services in refugee camps in the country.
- “For the ten of millions of people who the IRC serves around the world, self-isolating, washing their hands, and getting to a health center if they are in need, is practically impossible.” Our CEO and president David Miliband released a special message on our response and how you can make a difference.
“Our teams are doing an amazing job – but they need to do an even bigger job. And for that we need your help.”— IRC - International Rescue Committee (@RESCUEorg) March 20, 2020
A message from IRC president & CEO @DMiliband about our #COVID19 response and how you can make a difference. pic.twitter.com/irbYS3sOG4