An update on our work during the pandemic

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Children in a Syrian tented settlement in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Gonzalo Bell photographer.

Anera is carefully following the COVID-19 pandemic and what it means for our people, partners and programs. Our thoughts and best wishes for health and safety are with everyone in the Anera family  – staff, donors, partners, funders, and most particularly the Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese and Jordanians living in the vulnerable communities where we work in the Middle East.

Lebanon, Jordan and the West Bank have asked residents to shelter in place and avoid non-essential travel. Gaza does not have any known cases, but there is a real fear of the devastation that an outbreak there could bring about. Camps and communities that already were struggling daily to survive are now more cut off than ever with little to eat, limited health care options, and difficult hygiene conditions.

A crowded Syrian refugee tented settlement in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

In order to reduce the risk of spreading or contracting the virus, Anera staff across all regions (except Gaza for now) are now working remotely. There are some situations when staff must visit work sites or interact with each other. In these limited cases, they practice social-distancing protocols and follow standard COVID-19 hygiene guidance.

Anera is continuing our work, while adjusting to the changing circumstances brought on by the coronavirus. Here are a few updates from our programs:

  • Transitioning our UNICEF-funded basic literacy and math, English language, and financial literacy courses to an online system. We are piloting the approach in several regions around Lebanon. All students will receive a tablet, since they have few resources of their own. Anera will test the effectiveness of communication, given poor internet connectivity in Lebanon, and the quality of learning and sharing. (Learn more about what we are doing in Lebanon.)
  • Shipping supplies to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. One shipment of N95 respirator face masks, sanitizing items and portable oxygen devices will go to the Lebanese Red Cross to help them safely transfer patients with COVID-19 to hospitals. The other will go to Rafik Hariri Government Hospital, which is the main facility treating coronavirus patients. We also will procure locally more items to help Lebanon’s overstretched health care system prepare for COVID-19.
  • Sending medicines and supplies to Palestine. Seven shipping containers are either on their way or about to ship. Three are heading to Gaza and four to the West Bank. They are full of medicines that treat conditions like diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease. They also contain vitamins and health care supplies such as syringes and surgical gloves. 
  • Delivering hygiene supplies to communities. We are working on three containers full of hygiene and baby care kits, school supplies, and blankets for delivery in disadvantaged communities across Lebanon. We also will procure locally hygiene and disinfection supplies to deliver to municipalities and individuals.
  • Spreading messages for staying healthy. In Lebanon, Anera will be sharing daily videos and simple written instructions, through social channels and WhatsApp, that promote helpful guidance on topics like properly sanitizing items, hand washing, social distancing and exercising at home. In Gaza, we are airing radio spots on local stations promoting handwashing and other hygiene advice.
A Palestinian family in their living room – damaged and wall-less from the last Gaza-Israel War. Families in Gaza are vulnerable to COVID-19 without proper shelter and sanitary conditions. Photo by Mohammed Zaanoun.

Anera is staying steadfast as ever in Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan. Our medical donations program is providing significantly increased support at this time. With increased coordination with donors and our front-line partner health clinics and hospitals, we are shipping more to meet this crisis.

We are also going back to donors to increase our planned Ramadan food package and meal donations, which will begin next month. More support from you and others will help us meet the increased needs. We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves and keep you in the loop as our programs adapt and expand to meet the needs on the ground.

We’re all in this together and we’ll see each other through.

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