The global COVID-19 pandemic is a humanitarian, economic, and social crisis on a nearly unprecedented scale. Its impacts have devastated communities throughout the world, but displaced people have been disproportionally affected. Since the outbreak of the crisis, ACTED has been working on camp management to address the specific challenges faced by displaced people in Syria who continue to suffer from the health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, 6.7 million people have been forced to trade the safety of their home for temporary tents and difficult living conditions in informal camps and settlements with very limited access to basic services.
Since early 2020, ACTED has with the support of USAID been delivering critical assistance to meet multi-sectoral basic needs of 355,117 camp residents living in 285 informal camps and settlements all over the country. Families living in these settlements face some of the harshest conditions especially with the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Midya a 103-year old women is one the of unlucky victims of the virus, despite her best efforts to keep herself safe. She arrived in one of the ACTED managed camps in 2017 with her two grandchildren. The long journey to the camp cost the family everything including the death of Midya’s son and father to her grandchildren, leaving them completely dependent on humanitarian aid.
It was a devastating day when Midya was tested positive for the Covid-19, forcing the family into isolation and Midya through a difficult recovery. When she was tested positive, ACTED conducted a thorough contact tracing. The teams made sure that Midya could recover in safe and comfortable surroundings in the local hospital together with her grandchildren and the few people she had been in contact with.
ACTED staff checked up on Midya on a daily basis and made sure that the family’s needs in terms of food, water and medicine were covered. Due to her strong willpower and determination Midya made a full recovery after 5 intense weeks in the hospital.
“I had to choice, I needed to survive for my grandchildren. They are 19 and 22 years old, they need me to be around. I might not be able to work or provide for them but I cannot leave them in this situation. Syria was once a great country where you could have a safe and normal life, I want them to experience that.”
Since Midya recovered from Covid-19, she has had a difficult time moving around without experiencing joint and muscle pains making her depend on her grandchildren for everything. When ACTED staff members made sure she got a new and more comfortable bed and coordinated with other organizations in the camp to provide her a wheelchair and the instalment of disabled friendly toilets in the latrine block near her tent.
Today Midya is recovering. However, she seems determined to make the best out of her situation. She says:
“I am very thankful for ACTED and the support they have provided me. They have truly made the recovery easier for my family and I. Everything has changed now, I still have a difficult time moving around without help which is frustrating but also a small price to pay for surviving Covid when you are 103 years old”
Since the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Syria in April 2020, ACTED has implemented various activities to prevent big outbreaks in the camp.
The overcrowded camps and limited access to basic services make it difficult to uphold recommended Covid-19 preventive measures such as social distance, frequent handwashing and improved hygiene routines. As such the families and especially elderly people living here are in higher risk to contract the virus.
In that context, the implementation of hygiene specific activities is critical for vulnerable displaced households to allow for increased and dignified hygiene practices. In 2020, ACTED partnership with USAID achieved the following: