Response to COVID-19 in Wavel Palestinian Refugee Camp
April 22, 2020 | Bekaa Valley, Lebanon – Anera is beginning a multi-faceted response to COVID-19 in Wavel camp for Palestinian refugees in Baalbeck, Lebanon. A Palestinian refugee who fled the Syrian civil war, and who lives near the camp, tested positive for the virus today. She traveled in and out of the camp often, interacting with friends and family there.
Anera is responding immediately in three different ways.
- First, we are delivering face masks to residents of the camp. Last week, Anera launched a program to make 300,000 surgical masks for distribution to front line responders, both medical and non-medical. Today, ten young students from Anera’s vocational sewing course at the Regeneration and Development Association, our local partner in the Bekaa Valley, worked all day to produce 3,000 protective masks, which adhere to Ministry of Health safety guidelines. Twenty-five youths in the camp will distribute the masks tomorrow, while maintaining physical distancing and safety protocols. And Anera will monitor the situation closely to determine if there is a need to deliver more masks in the coming weeks.
- Second, 15 youths who graduated from Anera’s vocational plumbing and electricity class are constructing a sterilization gate for the entrance to Wavel camp to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is part of a larger effort to build 20 gates for camps and communities throughout the Bekaa Valley. The gates are equipped to spray bleach solutions that sterilize vehicles and steam for individuals. With local partners, Anera will mobilize volunteers from inside the camp to operate the gate and spray the camp interior. Anera plans to erect the gate in two days.
- Third, tomorrow, Anera will begin working with Najdeh Association to bring together 20 young people to assemble food packages for 700 families in the camp. This is part of Anera’s larger campaign to provide food to vulnerable families across Lebanon this Ramadan.
“Having one person test positive is one too many in an over-crowded community such as Wavel,” says Anera Country Director Samar El Yassir. “We are very concerned. A priority should be to set up as quickly as possible isolation centres where positive cases and suspected cases can be quarantined. It is impossible to isolate in a two-room house where often more than 10 people live.”
Anera’s initiatives are part of the Multidimensional Employability Support Package for Youth in Lebanon program: a partnership between UNICEF and Anera, with funding from the German Cooperation and the governments of Norway and the Netherlands.
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For 52 years, Anera has helped refugees and others hurt by conflicts in the Middle East live with dignity and purpose. Anera, which has no political or religious affiliation, works on the ground with partners in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, Lebanon, and Jordan. We mobilize resources for immediate humanitarian relief and for sustainable health, education, and economic development efforts. Our staff are from the communities they serve, navigating the politics that constrict progress to get help where it’s needed most. We will keep building better lives until hope finds its way in the Middle East.