Lebanon. COVID-19 emergency among Syrian refugees in Marjayoun refugee camps

Date 28.04.2020

Shortly after the findings of the first cases of COVID-19, the Lebanese government took on restrictive measures, with a full lock down of all the public and private activities, except for the essential ones, an evening curfew (from 7 pm to 5 am) and the circulation of transport only on weekdays and with the alternate number plate system.

The fear of the contagion spreading strongly concerns the authorities, since the country is already hit by a serious economic crisis that led the government to declare the default on 7 March and the precarious health system would be unable to face the emergency.

COVID-19 emergency in Syrian camps

The concern among the population is very high, especially among the Syrian refugees in Marjayoun refugee camps, in the south of the country, where our activities cannot go on as before the COVID-19 emergency.

To respond to the emergency, AVSI staff has been informed on the security and prevention measures and, in respect of the local regulations, has diversified its activities and prepared new interventions: the projects have not stopped, they have been modified and intensified.

Awareness campaigns on hygienic sanitation norms have been activated, both digital (by telephone and social media) and in the camps, where hygienic and sanitary kits and food parcels have been distributed.

"It is difficult to follow rules in a camp.” – explains Marina Molino Lova, AVSI Lebanon responsible - “Even before the emergency overcrowding and lack of running water were big problems. The fear of the economic situation is added to the fear of Coronavirus. Every kind of work has stopped and people who managed to earn something before certainly have no savings to wait for the little activities they followed to start again".

Distant learning tests

The staff is taking steps to transform the educational activities, taking into account the level of digital tools spread in the country. We are working using videos and messages via WhatsApp so far and a team of psychologists organized a listening and psycho-social support service.

"In 2017 we tested the digital teaching programme (Can't wait to learn) designed by War Child Holland, one of the NGOs with which we implement the project "Back to the Future" supported by the European Union Madad fund. We are studying how to apply it both in phase two and in other teaching activities" explains Marina Molino Lova.

A new passion drives us; we were accustomed to crisis, but this absolute emergency forces us to change, to respond on the front line and to feel part of the aid machine

Marina Molino Lova (AVSI Lebanon)