Nairobi – IOM, the International OrganiZation for Migration, Regional Office for the East and Horn of Africa is launching an appeal for USD 71.6 million to support millions of migrants including internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region confront the COVID-19 global public health emergency. Border closures, lockdowns and curfews, and an economic freeze in the region has left millions of people stranded, vulnerable, and facing an uncertain future.
Migrant workers are losing their jobs, their only means of economic survival, and facing stigma and xenophobia arising against foreigners seen as bearers of the COVID-19 disease. Serious obstacles to accessing health and medical care are being laid bare, and the poorest and most vulnerable families dependent on remittances are facing potential hardship as family breadwinners abroad lose their earnings.
IOM’s Regional Office’s COVID-19 preparedness and response activities are well underway. In Ethiopia, IOM is supporting nearly 3,000 migrants returned from different locations due to the pandemic with food and accommodation. In Kenya 35 medical personnel have been deployed to support the Government in 10 national quarantine centres. In Tanzania, medical doctors, logisticians and human resource personnel are supporting the authorities with case management.
In Somalia IOM is assisting with the procurement of screening and personal protective equipment for health and immigration officials. In Burundi capacity building of health staff and immigration officials in border areas is ongoing. In Ethiopia and Rwanda, provision of toolkits and information materials, including for border communities at points of entry are being distributed. In Uganda, Rwanda, and Djibouti training in hospitals and medical centres in migrant dense areas is in place. As the lead agency for camp coordination and camp management, IOM is also extending water, sanitation, hygiene and health services to displaced persons in South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia to reduce the probability of COVID-19 reaching some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. And in response to government requests across the region, IOM is preparing to support COVID-19 testing.
Public health bodies including WHO have expressed concerns COVID-19 may escalate modelling the epi curve of other regions. The impact on the East and Horn of Africa is expected to be far reaching and more catastrophic than for high income countries given the poor status of health systems and health workforce. IOM is strategically positioned to assist due its expertise and leadership in humanitarian response, cross border co-ordination, capacity building for government staff, enhancing sanitation facilities at border crossings and entry points. Support with case management, monitoring and mapping of people’s movements within and across borders, and work in displacement sites. It is against this background that IOM, Regional Office, East & Horn of Africa is appealing for more funds for its strategic support programmes to mitigate the impact of the disease.
“The COVID-19 outbreak is a serious public health problem. It is acutely worse for migrants in this region who depend some heavily on being able to migrate for work to survive and support their families back home. The mass closure of air, land and sea borders is also of huge concern because so many migrants and local communities depend on being able to move freely between porous borders in the region,” said Mohammed Abdiker, the IOM Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa.
“Health care systems in the region are inadequate to handle a mass outbreak, including for displaced populations. This appeal seeks to prepare for the expected surge in cases and mitigate or reduce the no doubt negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic spreading in the region.”
IIf the appeal is answered, the funds will be used to meet the humanitarian needs of migrants and IDPs in the region, enhance disease surveillance, improve prevention such as building handwashing facilities, enhance cross-border coordination, build the capacity of government staff to deal with the pandemic, monitor and map movements of people in the region and disseminate information how to prevent COVID-19 targeting migrants, refugees and displaced persons. IOM is the global lead of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) humanitarian cluster and, with more than 430 offices and 14,000 staff members across the world – including thousands working specifically on health and community engagement – is uniquely placed to provide support in international public health emergencies.
Since January, the Organization has assisted Governments with COVID-19 preparedness and response. Recognizing the evolving nature of this crisis, this appeal is aligned with and expands on IOM’s Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.
The appeal can be found here:https://ronairobi.iom.int/publications/iom-east-and-horn-africa-strategic-and-preparedness-and-response-plan-covid-19
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