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
24 March 2020

Syria: COVID-19

As the first case of coronavirus is confirmed in Syria, CARE is deeply concerned about the health and safety of over three million people in Northwest Syria, over half of whom are internally displaced and live in crowded camps. Nirvana Shawky, CARE’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

Nine years of conflict have left Syria in shambles. Not only are many vulnerable people living in tents and makeshift shelters, but civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and health care centers, have been decimated. With many healthcare professionals having either left the country or become displaced, providing sufficient medical assistance at scale is nearly impossible. As developed countries struggle to cope with responding to the virus, an outbreak will have devastating consequences on the war-torn country, where millions are in need of aid.

In response to the spread of the coronavirus, CARE has put in place COVID-19 prevention, mitigation and response programming, focusing on supporting clean water and sanitation services. In Northwest Syria, CARE continues to ensure the delivery of clean water. Due to the need to increase handwashing, CARE has put plans in place to increase water trucking to people in the area. CARE also will increase the distribution of soap, cleaning material and information material for hygiene promotion.

20 March 2020

COVID-19 pandemic

CARE is commited to adapting our programming and where possible scaling up our work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will focus mainly on support for clean water and sanitation services in countries with weak infrastructure. Sally Austin, CARE International’s Head of Emergency Operations, said:

Now is the time to show solidarity with countries yet to be critically affected and that have insufficient health services to cope with an outbreak of COVID-19.

We are particularly concerned about people in conflict hotspots who already rely on humanitarian aid; people in refugee camps; and people around the world already facing poverty, inequality and lack of access to services. Austin says:

For months we have been facing serious access issues in some of the humanitarian hotspots such as Yemen, Syria or Iraq. If COVID-19 spreads in those hard-to-reach places, the consequences could be devastating. People here are already weakened by months and years of violence, lack of health services and malnourishment.

We are also tremendously worried about big refugee camps such as in Bangladesh or Kenya and not least for local communities in regions that have suffered from chronic poverty and poor health, from Niger to Laos to Papua New Guinea.

CARE is working in 23 countries to increase water and sanitation support, 14 country teams are scaling up health and reproductive health services and a further 19 countries are working on needs such as income, shelter and education. In other countries, programmes have been forced to close as national lockdowns are imposed; which is likely to have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable communities in the days and weeks to come. Austin says:

We have a limited period of time in which to act and continue programming before the situation gets really bad and COVID-related travel restrictions stop our work. We are already seeing this scenario playing out in many of the most vulnerable countries where we work – it is crucial we act now, before it is too late.

12 March 2020

COVID-19 coronavirus response

CARE is undergoing a contingency planning process in order to be able to respond rapidly to assist vulnerable communities in the countries where we work.

CARE is already working day-to-day in places where healthcare systems are weak and long-lasting food supplies have been wiped out by disaster and conflict. Sheba Crocker, Vice President for Humanitarian Policy and Practice at CARE USA, said:

As COVID-19 spreads, it is more evident than ever that there are far too many vulnerable people and too few resources for vulnerable communities. We also see how pandemics disproportionally affect women and girls. There’s no question that women will be on the frontlines of the response to COVID-19, increasing their risk of contracting the virus. We want to be sure their needs are met as this crisis unfolds.

CARE is also concerned about the rights of refugees, internally displaced populations, migrants and other people of concern should restrictions on entry, travel, and freedom of movement be imposed. In the event that restrictions on movements are imposed, alternatives to protect vulnerable people and ensure they can access critical services must be put in place.

18 Feb 2020

Southern Africa

More than 14 million people are facing acute hunger in one of the largest food crises in Southern Africa. 

Severe food insecurity rates across 9 southern African countries are 140% higher now than in 2018, primarily because people are being hit by weather extremes driven by climate change, according to Oxfam, CARE, Plan International and World Vision. Across the Southern Africa region there are now 14.4 million people facing acute levels of hunger, compared to 6 million at the same time in 2018.

In the past two years, the region has experienced three major cyclones, floods, a drought characterized by the lowest rainfall since 1981 in the months between October and December, as well as record warm temperatures in the first half of 2019.  These unusual and disruptive weather patterns have resulted in large scale crop losses which affected the availability of maize, a staple food, and driven prices up across the region in 2019. Zimbabwe is the hardest hit country by proportion, with 5.8 million people facing severe levels of food insecurity across urban and rural areas. Zambia has 2.3 million people affected; Mozambique 2 million, and Malawi 1.9 million.

CARE is working in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe providing food, cash, nutrition, WASH, climate-resilience and livelihoods support. Matthew Pickard, CARE International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa said:

As CARE, we are making sure we provide a gender sensitive approach in our drought response and resilience programming, to ensure the most vulnerable groups such as women and girls are prioritised and empowered, and that their specific needs are met. This includes working with women to set up village savings and loans associations, income diversification and other climate resilience building programmes.

17 Feb 2020


People in northwest Syria are living through one of the worst crisis, since the war in Syria began. Since December 2019, more than 800,000 people, most of whom are women and children, have been forcibly displaced in Idlib and surrounding areas. Winter conditions and freezing weather are further exacerbating the dire humanitarian situation and the vulnerability of those affected. Rain, snow and freezing temperatures across northwest Syria have made living conditions unbearable for some 450,000 displaced people who are living in camps, unfinished or destroyed buildings, or even out in the open. The dire situation of civilians in northwest Syria is further compounded by unprecedented devaluation of the Syrian Pound. Since the beginning of the year, at least 235 civilians, including 47 women and 84 children were killed, according to the UN Human Rights Office. In 2019 alone, there were 85 attacks on healthcare facilities in Northern Syria. The first weeks of 2020 have seen this atrocious trend continue. There is an urgent need for vital health support for pregnant women, mothers and newborn babies in northwest Syria.

Together with partners in northwest Syria, CARE is responding to the current intensification of hostilities by providing clean water and sanitation, maternal and reproductive healthcare, and psychosocial support to people affected by the crisis. CARE is also distributing relief supplies, such as food baskets, ready-to-eat rations, hygiene and baby packages, kitchen supplies, mattresses and winter supplies, including blankets and children’s clothing. Throughout this period, CARE has supported evacuation efforts from urban centers being targeted by airstrikes and is also supporting a network of ambulances. Between 21st December and 13th February, CARE reached more than 160,000 people in need in northwest Syria.