Crisis watch

The explosion the port of Beirut has caused massive destruction to buildings and infrastructure, as well as destroying crucial food supplies stored at the port
13 April 2020

COVID-19 response in Turkey

CARE’s main concerns for the refugee population in Turkey are meeting basic needs, access to accurate COVID-19 information, and healthcare. The majority of refugees in Turkey live below the poverty line and are dependent upon day labour in order to make ends meet. As businesses have shutdown to curb the spread of the virus, many Syrians have lost their sources of income, and are fearful of losing their homes because they are unable pay rent, as well as of being unable to meet their daily needs.

CARE’s response includes:

  • Risk communication and community engagement through a helpline and planned mass media (TV, radio, print) to prevent and mitigate risks of COVID-19
  • Distribution of hygiene products for handwashing, such as soap and hand sanitizers, to vulnerable refugee and host community members in Gaziantep, Kilis, and Şanliurfa provinces
  • Access to functioning toilets, handwashing and bathing facilities, with necessary taps, pipes, and fitting in sub-standard and hazardous housing, through cash-for-shelter programming
  • Digital platforms for capacity-building to enhance COVID-19 behaviour change; gender and protection mainstreaming is at the core of all activities
  • Provision of urgent and life-saving healthcare costs and access to rental support via cash transfer.

CARE Turkey’s Country Director Sherine Ibrahim said:

Responding to this global pandemic requires concerted efforts by government, NGOs and community members.  In our response to the COVID-crisis in Turkey, CARE is focused upon Syrian refugees as a particular vulnerable community to ensure that urgent needs are met and they do not slip into greater poverty and hardship. We remain concerned about the direct, as well as indirect impact of this pandemic, including food and income insecurity, increased social tensions, and undetected incidence of violence against women and girls. Our current response in Turkey strives to mitigate these risks and protect the most vulnerable people in Turkey.

8 April 2020

COVID-19 in East, South and West Africa

Emma Taylor Ngungi, CARE Regional Director for East Central and Southern Africa, reports:

In this region we work in a number of chronic and complex crises with extremely vulnerable and food insecure communities, so continued support to enable those existing programmes is really critical, and support to adapt these programmes and still fulfil our mandate in an age of COVID. In the Greater Horn alone 24.7 million people are severely food insecure and 15 million people in the DRC are in need from humanitarian assistance and are recovering from Ebola.

Climate-related disasters are still going to continue during all this – the current weather forecasts for the region are very poor, and we’re likely to see an increase in the desert locusts problem in Eastern Africa. So, we are really seeing an incredible combination of factors in this region.

Joyce Sepenoo, Country Director for CARE Benin & Togo, reports:

If international NGOs start suspending their operations [due to COVID-19] the situation will be dire for those currently experiencing conflict in the Lake Chad region, in Burkina Faso and Mali that are already in humanitarian crisis and need all the assistance they can get.

We are looking at how to adapt our operations in the time of COVID-19, to be more innovative with the use of mobile banking for example, private sector and virtual solutions in order to continuously keep operations going. We [also] need to be open to ideas coming from communities, especially women, so as to adapt and maintain current programmes.

Claudine Awute, CARE International Regional Director for West Africa, says:

I have seen very quick adaptation from CARE teams in country offices, which is a positive thing we are seeing come out of this crisis, and we need to continue to build on.

8 April 2020

Vanuatu: Cyclone Harold

A Category Five storm, Tropical Cyclone Harold passed over Vanuatu on 7 April and caused widespread destruction in the centre and north of the country. The northern provinces of Sanma, Malampa and Penama are most affected with the cyclone directly passing over many islands in these provinces. This has caused widespread destruction to housing, crops and food gardens. The affected islands are largely populated by dispersed, rural communities with challenging logistics, limited services and infrastructure and communities who live in traditional housing vulnerable to wind damage and whose livelihoods largely depend on subsistence gardening and markets. There will be a need for a massive relief effort and the disaster will take a long time to recover from.

CARE will deliver immediate relief assistance to address the basic life-saving needs of the communities including emergency shelter, water and sanitation equipment, and emergency food supplies. We will have a strong focus on making sure shelter can be restored to families and that women and children are protected in this crisis. As an immediate action, CARE Australia has despatched 800 hygiene kits and 1,000 tarps for shelter from its Disaster Response Depot in Brisbane.

6 April 2020

COVID-19 response

CARE has released over US$1 million of internal emergency funds to support 17 of the highest risk countries around the world in combating the pandemic. This quick release emergency fund is designed to allow CARE’s different country programmes to respond quickly and flexibly to a new humanitarian disaster such as COVID-19. Sally Austin, CARE International’s Head of Emergency Operations, says:

We’ve released flexible funds to support the rapid scale up and adjustment of life-saving activities and allow our teams to act quickly, while we are seeking exemptions for key humanitarian actors to continue working so life-saving assistance like food distributions can continue. The humanitarian community is supporting 100 million people around the world, and we need this work to be seen as essential.

Assistance will include training and information sharing on hygiene and sanitation best practices; installing soap and handwashing stations, conducting handwashing demonstrations, and tackling barriers to good hand hygiene; distributing hygiene kits; upgrading water infrastructure; providing frontline responders such as health workers in refugee settlements with PPE (personal protective equipment) kits; providing vulnerable families with cash to buy food.

3 April 2020

COVID-19: Northwest Syria

CARE Turkey, along with three of its partner organisations, has conducted a rapid WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) assessment in 78 IDP (internally displaced people) sites across Northwest Syria. Key findings include:

  • Adequate access to sanitation facilities is available at only 10% of the assessed locations. 45% of sites do not have any latrines. For the 55% of sites with latrines, average is 240 individuals per latrine.
  • The assessed IDP sites are critically lacking access to clean water, handwashing facilities and soap. Only 37% of the sites have sufficient and regular access to water supplies. As many as 83% of the sites have no access to handwashing facilities. A catastrophic 91% do not have access to soap.
  • Very limited, if any, WASH support has reached the assessed locations. Only 44% of the sites report having received hygiene items in the past 2 months.

Tue Jakobsen, Assistant Country Director – Humanitarian, CARE Turkey, says:

The displacement of close to one million people since December 2019 has resulted in a very high number of IDP-sites being set up by families on the move. These are informal sites and many of them do not have the most basic services or infrastructure available. Other sites have grown significantly as new arrivals have settled next to existing camp-like facilities.

Increasingly, reports from the areas have highlighted massive gaps in WASH services across these sites. In particular, the lack of safe sanitation facilities has been reported as a protection concern for girls and women.

The outbreak of COVID-19 globally has increased the urgency to address the gaps in these services. The lack of access to clean water, handwashing facilities and soap would undermine any initiative to prevent large-scale outbreaks in Northwest Syria.

Together with partners, CARE will be responding in some of these sites but urges all humanitarian agencies to prioritize them.