COMPOUNDING THE EFFECTS OF COVID-19, CONFLICT, VIOLENCE AND CLIMATE
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic brings daily life to a standstill in many parts of the continent, armed conflict and other situations of violence continue exacting a heavy toll on vulnerable communities. In places such as the Sahel, Horn and Lake Chad regions, the COVID-19 pandemic comes on top of an already devastating humanitarian situation brought on by conflicts, climate variability and locust outbreaks.
The ICRC has stepped up its response to the crisis, integrating COVID-19 as an important new parameter in its operations. As it continues to respond to the urgent needs of people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence, it is shifting its gears to help prevent or slow down the spread of infection and mitigate other risks arising from the pandemic. These responses include hospitals and clinics damaged by fighting or in areas where hostilities are ongoing, places of detention where the ICRC has access and a unique role to play in protecting detainees and prison staff from the spread of disease, camps for internally displaced people or refugees, where social distancing is impossible and access to water and soap is not guaranteed, and hard-to-reach areas, which are often beyond the reach of other aid organizations.
ICRC delegations and regional delegations in Africa are refining and adapting their existing activities to take into account new needs and challenges arising from COVID-19.
These activities aim to help people to meet their basic needs with dignity, help strengthen their resilience, and ensure the delivery of basic services. They constitute the foundation of the ICRC’s COVID-19 response today and will be essential to helping communities emerge from this crisis. The ICRC is carrying out these activities in line with national efforts to contain the virus, and in coordination with the authorities, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and other actors, including United Nations agencies.
The ICRC and its International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners have also been cooperating with the African Union and its member states, for concerted action to fight and prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
The ICRC has also been actively contributing to the African Union’s coordinated continental response to COVID-19, engaging with the Africa Center for Disease Control (Africa CDC), the Peace and Security Council, and the Social Affairs Department.
In a statement to the AU PSC open session held on 28 April 2020 on “Impact of COVID19 on Vulnerable Populations (IDPs, Refugees, Migrants)”, the ICRC President, Peter Maurer voiced concerns on vulnerabilities of IDPs, detainees and migrants and called members states to include these groups in their COVID responses. He also pointed out the need to adapt COVID response to the realities in Africa, especially in putting in place restrictive measures.
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross