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ReliefWeb - Updates

World: UNICEF supports Pacific Island countries to protect communities against COVID-19 pandemic

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 04:17:29 +0000

Countries: Fiji, Kiribati, Micronesia (Federated States of), Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, World
Source: UN Children's Fund

Pacific Island countries prepare to combat outbreaks

Suva, 30 March 2020 – UNICEF is supporting Pacific Island governments to help communities across the region prepare and respond to the threat faced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, UNICEF working together with the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided more than 170,000 essential medical and laboratory items, as well as other supplies, to support COVID-19 response efforts in the region. This assistance has been delivered to these countries according to their current needs, along with communication materials for governments to use at airport arrivals, in schools and communities, to inform the public about the symptoms of COVID-19, what to do if someone is feeling unwell, and actions to take to prevent the spread of the virus.

UNICEF is supporting the COVID-19 Joint Incident Management Team response in the Pacific led by WHO together with its partners, and with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Japan and Global Partnership for Education.

“UNICEF will continue working with governments and our partners throughout the Pacific to stop transmission of the virus, and to keep children and their families safe,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative Sheldon Yett. “Children are the hidden victims of this pandemic. In just a few months, COVID-19 has upended the lives of children around the Pacific. Thousands of children are not in school. Parents and caregivers have lost their jobs. Borders have been closed.”

Across the Pacific, UNICEF is supporting governments to respond to or prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 through several actions. This includes the provision of medical items to respond to any outbreak of the virus, including N95 respirators, surgical masks, swabs, thermometers, testing kits, gloves and medical gowns. UNICEF also continues to support all countries to help children continue their learning following school closures, while keeping schools safe, with the adaptation of the Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Schools for Pacific Island countries.

In addition to providing medical and laboratory supplies to support governments respond in the event of any virus outbreak, UNICEF continues to reach out to communities to share essential information on keeping children safe to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including washing hands, to cough into your elbow, and to not touch your face, especially the eyes, mouth and nose.

UNICEF continues to support countries in the Pacific region to be prepared and respond to any outbreak, with some of the main activities including:

In Fiji:

  • Provided 10 tents which will be used as fever clinics to treat patients who are unwell.

In Federated States of Micronesia:

  • Provided an SMS platform whereby two text messages daily on COVID-19 preventive measures reach 25,000 people throughout the country.
  • Implemented a community hand washing campaign including an orientation on proper hand washing in 77 schools in FSM’s Chuuk and Pohnpei States.
  • Working with IOM and the Pohnpei Public Utilities to build 100 handwashing stations with soap in schools and other public facilities as part of a hygiene promotion campaign.
  • Provided tents in Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap to be used as clinics.

In Solomon Islands:

  • Distributed Water, Sanitation and Health dignity kits including soap and sanitary pads to households affected by landslides in West Guadalcanal.
  • Supporting the government in developing learning continuity guidelines for children when at home.
  • Training for Social Welfare officers on managing stress and self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Vanuatu:

  • Provided three tents for the purposes of treating patients.
  • Will conduct trainings for awareness outreach in communities, in partnership with theatre group, Wan Smol Bag.

In Kiribati:

  • Worked with government and other partners to develop an SMS platform whereby text messages on COVID-19 were sent to about 50,000 people throughout the country.
  • Risk communication support to the government in developing training for awareness outreach in communities.
  • Installation of handwashing facilities at the main hospitals in Tarawa and Betio, including community campaign on proper hand washing.
  • Developing an education contingency plan to cater for possible school closure.

Media Contacts

Zubnah Khan
Communication Officer
UNICEF Pacific
Tel: +679 330 0439 Ext. 175
Tel: 715 7586
Email: zukhan@unicef.org

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Japan to support smallholder farmers and displaced people from Myanmar in Bangladesh

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 04:09:39 +0000

Countries: Bangladesh, Japan, Myanmar
Source: World Food Programme

DHAKA – The Government of Japan and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) concluded an agreement today which will provide US$ 5 million to support Bangladeshi smallholder farmers and people displaced from Myanmar through December 2020.

The agreement was signed by WFP Bangladesh Representative and Country Director, Mr Richard Ragan, and the Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, H. E. Mr. Hiroyasu Izumi, at a ceremony at the WFP Country Office.

“We thank the people of Japan for their continued assistance to this ongoing crisis in Cox’s Bazar. The needs remain substantial and this contribution enables us to continue our support to displaced people while developing new programming to support Bangladeshi smallholder farmers,” said Ragan.

“From this project, both farmers and displaced people will benefit. I sincerely wish that this project will be able to contribute to the development of Bangladesh and support of displaced people in Cox’s Bazar,” said H. E. Mr. Hiroyasu Izumi.

Japan’s contribution will support 2,000 Bangladeshi smallholder farmers in Patuakhali and Cox’s Bazar Districts with training and new tools and infrastructure to support their livelihoods.

Part of the contribution will support the expansion of WFP’s e-voucher programme to people displaced from Myanmar. This innovative programme allows participants to obtain a variety of food at special outlets contracted by WFP in the settlements. About a quarter of people displaced from Myanmar in Cox’s Bazar receive assistance by e-voucher, and this contribution from Japan will support 21,000 people with e-voucher assistance for 12 months.

This represents a continuation of Japan’s strong support to WFP’s response in Bangladesh. Japan contributed US$ 15 million to WFP Bangladesh in the beginning of the response, which provided timely funding in a time of great need. Japanese funds supported the construction of a bridge in the middle of the Kutupalong-Balukhali expansion site, which provides vital access to a section of the settlement that was completely unreachable by trucks carrying food and other supplies.

In Cox’s Bazar, WFP provides food assistance to over 870,000 people per month who have been displaced from Myanmar. WFP also supports nutrition and livelihoods interventions in the host community, supporting the most vulnerable people. WFP urgently needs US $52 million to continue providing assistance through June 2019.

The United Nations World Food Programme - saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media @wfp_AsiaPacific

Contact

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

David Peterson, WFP/Dhaka, Mob. +88 01701202924

Gemma Snowdon, WFP/Cox’s Bazar, Mob. +88 01713012875

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Ethiopia: Qatar Fund for development finance the construction of a specialized kidney care hospital in Addis Ababa

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 03:22:32 +0000

Countries: Ethiopia, Qatar
Source: Qatar Fund for Development

This project is the result of the Qatari-Ethiopian cooperation, which has witnessed significant growth in recent years

This project comes within the framework of the support provided by the State of Qatar to the health sector in Ethiopia

Qatar Fund for development (QFFD) Signed a Grant Agreement with Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The agreement was signed on 02/03/2020 by H.E. Mr. Khalifa bin Jassim Al-Kuwari, Director General of QFFD, and Mr. Admasu Nebebe the State Minister of Finance of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. This project is an outgrowth of the Qatari-Ethiopian cooperation that has witnessed significant growth in recent years, and through which the fund seeks to enhance and develop bilateral relations and joint cooperation between the State of Qatar and Ethiopia. This grant will fund the construction and furnishing of Kidney Treatment Hospital in Addis Ababa. When operating at its full capacity it is expected that the hospital will provide service to all ranges of kidney diseases that might result in kidney failure, provide dialysis and transplantation for those with kidney failure with an approximate capacity of serving 110,000 people annually. The support also includes training core staffs in order for the center to serve as a self-sufficient educational center for medical professionals in Ethiopia, and the project comes within the framework of the support provided by the State of Qatar to the health sector in Ethiopia. It is worth noting that many kidney patients suffer from limited access to early diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, and dialysis and their cultivation in Addis Ababa. Ethiopian hospitals suffer from severe shortages in the field of technical support provided to the current kidney disease and related services from maintenance of medical devices, supplies and medical drugs in addition to lack of staff capacity building and continuing education. Nor is there sufficient support for the optimal use of the existing resources available.

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DR Congo: Rapport de l’expert indépendant sur la situation des droits de l’homme en République démocratique du Congo, Titinga Frédéric Pacéré (A/HRC/7/25)

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 03:14:37 +0000

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Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Source: UN General Assembly

Résumé Par sa résolution 2004/84, la Commission des droits de l’homme a décidé de nommer un expert indépendant chargé de fournir une assistance au Gouvernement de la République démocratique du Congo dans le domaine des droits de l’homme, d’examiner l’évolution de la situation des droits de l’homme et de vérifier que les obligations sont remplies dans ce domaine. L’expert indépendant a présenté un premier rapport à la Commission des droits de l’homme à sa soixante et unième session2 . Il a ensuite présenté des rapports à la soixantième, soixante et unième, et soixante-deuxième session de l’Assemblée générale3 . Il avait également préparé un rapport pour la soixante-deuxième session de la Commission des droits de l’homme qui devait être examiné par le Conseil des droits de l’homme4 . À l’instar des autres procédures spéciales et mandats thématiques de la Commission des droits de l’homme, le mandat de l’expert indépendant sur la situation des droits de l’homme en République démocratique du Congo a été prorogé par la décision 1/102, adoptée par le Conseil des droits de l’homme le 30 juin 2006.
Son rapport à la quatrième session du Conseil des droits de l’homme5 ainsi que le présent rapport, ont été établis en vertu de cette décision.

Dans le cadre de ses visites tant à Genève qu’à New York, l’expert a eu à faire des rencontres au regard de la situation des droits de l’homme en République démocratique du Congo, ainsi que sur son mandat.

L’expert s’est également rendu en République démocratique du Congo du 28 novembre au 5 décembre 2007.

Au vu des informations que l’expert a recueilli au cours de l’année 2007 et au tout début de 2008, il peut présenter des observations et recommandations pertinentes sur la situation des droits de l’homme en République démocratique du Congo. Cette situation demeure préoccupante; l’insécurité reste inquiétante, surtout dans les régions de l’est du pays où des milices et groupes armés ainsi que les Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC), se livrent en toute impunité à des violations massives des droits de l’homme, et au Bas-Congo. La faiblesse du système judiciaire, son manque d’indépendance par rapport au pouvoir exécutif qui contrôle aussi des décisions judiciaires, sont également à déplorer.
Ainsi, l’expert recommande, inter alia:

a) Le respect de l’Acte d’engagement, signé à Goma le 23 janvier 2008;

b) La mise en place d’une réelle politique répressive en vue de poursuivre en justice et sanctionner systématiquement tous les auteurs de violations des droits de l’homme, ainsi que les acteurs politiques et militaires qui se rendent coupables d’ingérence et d’obstruction dans l’administration de la justice;

c) La fin de la pratique des juridictions militaires consistant à exercer leur compétence sur des civils et modifier le droit pénal militaire pour le mettre en conformité avec la Constitution et les normes internationales applicables en la matière;

d) La promotion de l’indépendance de la magistrature et la mise à la disposition du système judiciaire d’infrastructures et de ressources humaines suffisantes de manière à garantir une bonne administration de la justice;

e) Le soutien à l’équipe du Haut-Commissariat des Nations Unies aux droits de l’homme chargée d’établir la cartographie (mapping) des violations graves des droits de l’homme commises entre 1993 et 2003;

f) La facilitation de l’administration de la preuve en matière de violences sexuelles, en soutenant l’adoption et la diffusion d’un certificat médico-légal standard susceptible de constituer une preuve suffisante lors des procès.

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Myanmar: Displacement Camps Are COVID-19 Tinderboxes

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 02:57:24 +0000

Country: Myanmar
Source: Human Rights Watch

Lift Restrictions on Movement, Health Care, Internet, Aid

(Bangkok) – The Myanmar government should take urgent steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission among the estimated 350,000 people displaced by conflict and violence across the country, Human Rights Watch said today. Overcrowding, a mobile internet shutdown, blocks on humanitarian aid, and movement restrictions have left displaced communities in Rakhine, Kachin, Shan, Chin, and Karen States especially vulnerable to a virus outbreak.

While concerns have been raised about Myanmar’s capacity to manage the coronavirus given its poor healthcare infrastructure, the country’s displaced populations face even greater risks. Most are trapped in dangerously overcrowded camps with severely substandard health care and inadequate access to clean water, sanitation, and other essential services. Many displaced people have underlying medical conditions and chronic diseases, putting them at high risk of suffering serious effects from the virus.

State media announced the government was drafting a COVID-19 response plan for internally displaced persons (IDPs), but humanitarian workers told Human Rights Watch they had not been consulted on the draft or given guidance about responding to a potential spread.

“Years of conflict, neglect, and abusive policies by Myanmar’s government and military have left hundreds of thousands of displaced people sitting in the path of a public health catastrophe,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “The authorities need to ensure these groups have access to information, humanitarian aid, and health services, including prompt testing and isolation for those who show symptoms.”

The Myanmar government officially confirmed its first cases of coronavirus last week, following growing skepticism about its reported lack of cases. According to the health ministry, there are 10 confirmed cases, 55 lab results pending, and 430 individuals being monitored at hospitals across the country, as of March 30. The actual number of cases is likely much higher, in part due to limited testing capacity and the country’s weak health system. The government implemented more stringent restrictions last week, including a mandatory two-week quarantine for all foreigners and Myanmar nationals entering the country.

Myanmar has 6.1 doctors per 10,000 people, falling short of the World Health Organization’s recommended minimum. In rural and conflict-affected areas the availability of health personnel drops precipitously; one Rakhine State township has only one doctor per 83,000 people, or 0.12 per 10,000. With just one laboratory in the country that can process COVID-19 tests and enough kits to test only 1,700 people at present, Myanmar is ill-equipped to handle the growing caseload that has overwhelmed health systems elsewhere. The government has yet to designate a hospital in Rakhine State for the handling of coronavirus cases.

Overcrowding in the camps is pervasive, making physical distancing nearly impossible and significantly increasing the risk of transmission. In many cases, the government has for years refused to allocate adequate space or suitable land for the camps’ construction and maintenance, while denying those displaced their right to return to their place of origin or of choice.

Myanmar has an obligation under international human rights law to ensure equal access to essential health care, regardless of ethnicity, religion, citizenship status, age, or gender. As several United Nations rights experts stated, in addressing the pandemic, “States must take additional social protection measures so that their support reaches those who are at most risk of being disproportionately affected by the crisis.”

The government should ensure its response to COVID-19 includes targeted prevention and treatment efforts for displaced populations, including allocating additional space and resources to alleviate overcrowding and improve water, sanitation, and health services, in line with international guidelines on responding to the coronavirus in camp settings. The health ministry should consult experts and humanitarian agencies and make public its plan to reduce the risk of infection and protect internally displaced people and staff working in the camps. Any quarantine or isolation measures should be strictly necessary, proportionate, and limited in scope and duration.

“Health conditions are already disastrous for displaced people in Rakhine, Kachin, and northern Shan camps, and now COVID-19 is threatening to decimate these vulnerable communities,” Adams said. “Donors are ready to help, but nothing can happen unless the Myanmar government ends restrictions on movement and permits aid groups the kind of unfettered access needed for a rapid, substantive response to the virus.”

Rohingya in Central Rakhine

In central Rakhine State, about 130,000 Muslims, predominantly ethnic Rohingya, have been confined to open-air detention camps since 2012. Arbitrarily denied freedom of movement, they are effectively imprisoned by the Myanmar government and security forces in squalid conditions. Access to health facilities is extremely restricted. There are only two government-run health centers with limited opening hours and few beds, both inaccessible to those in remote camps, and part-time basic mobile clinics. None have COVID-19 testing capacity.

For those facing serious medical problems, procuring an emergency referral to Sittwe General Hospital in the state capital is bureaucratically and financially prohibitive. Only 16 percent of Rohingya in the camps reported receiving necessary medical care. Rohingya elsewhere in Rakhine State face similarly abusive restrictions on accessing health services.

The government should urgently lift restrictions that prevent Rohingya and other minorities from accessing equitable health care, including eliminating the medical referral system, removing financial requirements for accessing Sittwe General Hospital, and increasing 24/7 ambulance services.

Water, sanitation, and hygiene structures in the camps are severely inadequate. One latrine is shared by as many as 40 people; one water access point by as many as 600. Communicable diseases such as COVID-19 can spread easily amid the congested and deteriorating camp shelters. Camp clinics were found to have significantly higher rates of communicable diseases – scabies, dysentery, tuberculosis, and influenza – than nearby village clinics, with the tuberculosis rates nine-times as high.

None of the camps have the minimum amount of space per person of 45 square meters recommended by international standards. The average is 20 square meters per person, less than half the minimum standard. In the most crowded camp, 12,500 Rohingya have an average of just 7 square meters per person.

Aid Blockages

In Rakhine and Chin States, fighting between the Myanmar military and the insurgent Arakan Army since January 2019 has displaced at least 100,000 civilians, according to local groups. The majority are ethnic Rakhine taking shelter in makeshift displacement sites in villages and monasteries. Local residents have described the challenges accessing clean water in the temporary shelters, as well as the accompanying impacts on health and hygiene, including growing rates of malnutrition. In response to the conflict, authorities restricted humanitarian access in half of Rakhine State’s townships, making it difficult or impossible for life-saving supplies to be delivered.

Over 107,000 IDPs live in camps in Kachin and northern Shan States, displaced by ongoing fighting between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups. Harsh government restrictions on humanitarian groups have compounded the lack of access to health care, shelter, clean water, sanitation, and food. About 70,000 displaced people in the area are denied adequate aid, particularly those in areas not controlled by the government along the Chinese border.

The government should lift blanket restrictions on aid delivery and grant humanitarian groups and UN agencies immediate, unrestricted, and sustained access to displaced civilians, particularly for providing urgent health services such as COVID-19 screening and testing. The Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups should safeguard civilians from fighting and ensure health care and other assistance can reach vulnerable populations.

Internet Shutdown

In response to the Arakan Army conflict, the government since June 2019 has imposed restrictions on mobile internet communications in Rakhine and Chin States, currently encompassing nine conflict-affected townships and approximately one million people. With overlapping blockages on internet and aid, many will be left with no viable access to medical guidance if they develop COVID-19 symptoms. The blanket shutdown violates international human rights law, which requires internet-based restrictions to be necessary and proportionate.

Access to information is a critical part of the right to health. As UN experts noted, during the pandemic “it is essential that governments refrain from blocking internet access.… Especially at a time of emergency, when access to information is of critical importance, broad restrictions on access to the internet cannot be justified on public order or national security grounds.” The Myanmar government should immediately end the internet shutdown and provide accurate and up-to-date information about the virus, access to services, service disruptions, and other aspects of the response to all, including in multiple languages and for those with low or no literacy.

“The looming threat of the coronavirus demands Myanmar reverse course in its approach toward those affected by conflict, from negligence and abuse to urgent protection,” Adams said. “It should prioritize its COVID response in camps and immediately remove the barriers to health care it has enforced for years – or it will be condemning people to preventable deaths, both in the camps and nationwide.”

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Bangladesh: Humanitarian crisis management programme: Situation Report - COVID-19 (21 March 2020)

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 02:56:43 +0000

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Countries: Bangladesh, Myanmar
Source: BRAC

DAILY UPDATE

Cox’s Bazar

  • Cox’s Bazar’s District administration is tracking down foreign returnees, and announced penalties for those not following home quarantine rules. On 20 March, the authority fined two foreign returnees who did not abide by the rules.

  • Public announcements are being made in some municipal areas in Cox’s Bazar to raise awareness cleanliness and on staying home to prevent panic and misinformation.

  • Tourist police have demonstrated hand sanitisation process in the intersection of the hotel zone in Cox’s Bazar.

  • Cox’s Bazar sea beach has been restricted to the tourists. Law enforcement teams are constantly patrolling the area.

  • All livestock huts in Cox's Bazar will remain closed until further instructions, in the public interest to prevent coronavirus infection.

Host communities and camps

  • A total of 653 hand wash stations were installed since 17 March. Among these, 500 were installed in the household level, 20 in front of HCMP branch offices, 83 in camp areas, and 50 in the community level.

  • 6 community volunteers attended a training and awareness session on COVID-19, conducted by BRAC’s community health workers in Whykong, Teknaf. Another training session was held through a video conference led by BRAC’s ultra-poor graduation team from BRAC headquarters, 10 members from Cox’s Bazar in attendance.

HCMP

  • HCMP COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force emphasised that leave from the office is a right of employees, and requested all team and sector leads to monitor the mobility of employees moving in or out of Cox‘s Bazar.
    Employees are asked to inform their line managers to ensure follow-up measures when going or returning from leave. The area director will circulate the emergency leave process for this crisis period.

  • To ensure safety, team leads meeting on DFAT is suggested to be postponed or held through video conference. Senior management team will also explore options for creating more delegation to coordinate all meetings properly.

  • HCMP will receive 50,000 leaflets in Bengali from BRAC headquarters to translate into the Rohingya language, in consultation with the Education and Health sector and with approval from government authorities, and distributed among members of the Rohingya communities.

  • HCMP task force will arrange a video conference with two area coordination committees on COVID-19. HR will ask the HCMP COVID-19 Task Force members to share their talking points. 2-3 members of the task force, along with the area director will join the meeting.

  • A ToT training session was conducted by the health sector of HCMP for the second consecutive day for health service providers, including medical officers, midwives, paramedics and lab technicians. 40 personnel were trained in 4 batches on the first day. 43 personnel were trained in 10 batches today. To ensure safety, the number of participants was kept below 10.

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Thailand Faces Record Drought

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 02:41:00 +0000

Country: Thailand
Source: Voice of America

By VOA News
March 29, 2020 01:04 PM

For some Thais who are turning on their faucets this month, what they are getting in return is a stream of salty water. The seawater intrusion, into Thailand’s lower-level rivers and reservoirs, is just one of the many effects this season as the Southeast Asian nation goes through a drought that could be its worst in four decades.

The monsoon season, which usually runs from about May to October, came two weeks late in 2019 and ended three weeks early, leaving Thailand with less rainfall than usual, according to the Mekong River Commission.

That is contributing to a drought that is drying up farms, threatening electricity supplies from hydropower dams, and looming over an economy already hurt by the coronavirus.

The government has introduced a water management command center to handle the drought, funded with $190 million, considered an investment since the prior drought cost Thailand more than $1 billion in 2016.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who will head the command center, has also asked citizens to save water by shortening showers and tooth-brushing times by one minute.

The reason residents are getting salty water is that the drought has lowered river levels, allowing seawater to enter the water supply, said Senaka Basnayake, the director of climate resilience at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in Thailand. And there is not enough fresh water from upriver to wash out the salt.

“This is one of the signs showing the drought situation in low-lying areas in Thailand this year is worse than before,” said Basnayake.

The Mekong River, one of the world’s biggest, winds from Tibet through China and down to several nations including Thailand. Bangkok will discuss with Beijing the upriver activities, including dam building, that are restricting water from reaching the Southeast Asian nation, local media reported.

Besides leaving schools dry, the drought also poses an economic risk.

Thailand is already reeling from the big drop in Chinese tourism and ability to export and import with China, one of its biggest trading partners, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now the drought is making it harder for the nation’s 11 million farmers to grow crops such as sugar and rice, of which Thailand is the second biggest exporter in the world.

“This year’s prolonged dry weather condition can possibly adversely impact agricultural and crop production,” Lam Hung Son, head of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat’s Regional Flood and Drought Management Center, said.

Thai farmers are responding by cutting back on the amount of water they use for each plant. Power plants are decreasing their water usage as well, following a request from the government.

The responses are part of a broader reaction across the business sector, which is decreasing water consumption. Companies are more aware than ever that their actions have an environmental effect, Sira Intarakumthornchai, chief executive officer at the consulting firm PwC Thailand, said.

“Looking at Thailand, we have seen a rising awareness of the importance of sustainable development, especially among listed companies,” he said.

The drought is hitting other Mekong nations, Laos and Vietnam, but the worst impacts will be seen in Cambodia and Thailand, the Mekong River Commission said.

Part of Thailand’s response to the drought is to divert water from wetter areas to dry ones and to build up more reservoirs, though that will take time. And the nation is having to battle the drought while trying to juggle other environmental priorities at the same time, including air pollution and plastic waste. As Sira put it, “Needless to say, 2020 looks to be another difficult year.”

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World: Covid-19 : trois façons d'aider l'Afrique à lutter contre la pandémie

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 02:40:55 +0000

Country: World
Source: UN News Service

La Commission économique des Nations Unies pour l'Afrique souligne les défis que posent des mesures telles que la distanciation sociale et le lavage des mains dans la région ; la suspension des paiements d'intérêts sur les dettes nationales est l'un des moyens dont dispose le monde développé pour soutenir ces nations contre le Covid-19.

La Commission économique des Nations unies pour l'Afrique (CEA-ONU), a publié une liste de trois façons dont les pays les plus développés du monde peuvent aider le continent à lutter contre la nouvelle pandémie de coronavirus.

Selon la CEA, «il s'agit d'une crise mondiale, mais l'Afrique sera plus touchée, avec un co슩t économique lourd et durable, qui menacera les progrès, accentuera les inégalités et aggravera les faiblesses ».

Soutien

La Commission déclare que les pays africains « se préparent aux pires effets de cette pandémie », mais qu'ils ont besoin d'aide pour se préparer à la crise sanitaire et à ses conséquences économiques.

Les mesures prises en Asie, en Europe et en Amérique du Nord, telles que l'éloignement physique et le lavage régulier des mains, constitueront un défi particulier pour les pays dont la connectivité internet est limitée, les populations denses, l'accès inégal à l'eau et les filets de sécurité sociale limités.

En raison de ces difficultés, la CEA propose trois actions pour les 20 plus grandes économies du monde, le G20.

1. Soutien pour une réponse immédiate et humaine

Les dirigeants du G20 doivent soutenir et encourager l'ouverture des corridors commerciaux, notamment pour les produits pharmaceutiques et autres fournitures de santé, ainsi que soutenir la modernisation des infrastructures de santé et apporter un soutien direct aux installations existantes.

Selon la CEA, cela permettra aux pays de se concentrer autant que possible sur la prévention et de commencer à construire des installations de traitement.

Un soutien devrait également être apporté à l'Organisation mondiale de la santé, à l'OMS, au Fonds mondial, à l'Alliance mondiale pour les vaccins(Gavi) et à d'autres partenaires.

Ces pays devraient également soutenir les campagnes de santé publique et l'accès à l'information. Une option consiste à s'associer au secteur privé pour améliorer la connectivité à l'internet, en permettant à l'activité économique de se poursuivre pendant les mesures de distanciation sociale et en soutenant le partage d'informations.

2. Approbation immédiate d'un plan de relance économique d'urgence

Selon la commission de l'ONU, les dirigeants du G20 devraient annoncer 100 milliards de dollars pour financer la réponse immédiate dans des secteurs tels que la santé, la sécurité sociale, l'alimentation des enfants non scolarisés et la protection de l'emploi. Jusqu'à présent, 50 milliards de dollars ont été promis.

La CEA affirme que, proportionnellement à la taille de ces économies, ce chiffre est cohérent avec les dépenses promises dans d'autres régions. Le paquet devrait également inclure une suspension de tous les paiements d'intérêts sur les dettes nationales, estimées à 44 milliards de dollars d'ici 2020.

Ce soutien devrait être fourni avec prévisibilité, transparence et responsabilité afin que les ministres des finances puissent planifier efficacement et que la société civile puisse suivre ces mouvements et s'assurer qu'ils sont utilisés pour soutenir ceux qui en ont le plus besoin.

3. Mettre en œuvre des mesures d'urgence pour protéger 30 millions d'emplois, principalement dans les secteurs du tourisme et de l'aviation

Des mesures de soutien aux importations et exportations agricoles, au secteur pharmaceutique et au secteur bancaire devraient également être approuvées. Une ligne de crédit étendue et des programmes de refinancement peuvent contribuer à fournir des liquidités pendant l'année.

Selon la CEA, cette disponibilité financière est importante pour que le secteur privé puisse continuer à fonctionner, y compris les petites et moyennes entreprises qui dépendent du commerce.

Enfin, les plans de relance nationaux et régionaux devraient inclure des mesures de soutien aux entreprises africaines, permettant la suspension de divers types de paiements, y compris la dette.

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Pakistan: Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA): Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Daily Situation Report (29 Mar 2020, Morning)

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 02:34:09 +0000

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Country: Pakistan
Source: Government of Pakistan

Please refer to the attached file(s).

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Situation Report - Sri Lanka 29th March 2020 at 1800hrs

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 02:23:03 +0000

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Country: Sri Lanka
Source: Disaster Management Centre of Sri Lanka

Please refer to the attached file(s).

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oPt: State of Emergency: Palestine’s COVID-19 Response Plan

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 01:56:03 +0000

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Country: occupied Palestinian territory
Source: Government of the State of Palestine

1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Government of Palestine (GoP) has quickly and effectively responded to the outbreak of COVID-19, using an internationally and nationally coordinated, data-driven approach to contain the spread of the virus within our borders. The GoP approach is containment and suppression, which is designed to protect our citizens (particularly the most vulnerable) from infection while also mitigating the stress on our already strained health care system.

The GoP immediately declared a State of Emergency when the first cases in the State of Palestine were diagnosed on 5 March 2020 and launched robust national containment measures, supported by an evidence-based communications campaign to encourage our citizens to protect themselves and follow government guidance.

So far, the State of Palestine has one of the lowest rates of virus spread and almost no community transmission, with 84 active cases in the West Bank and the Southern Governorates (Gaza Strip). As the COVID-19 incidence increases around the world, the GoP is continuing efforts to contain the virus to protect our citizens (and those of the larger region) and contribute to the global effort to end the pandemic. On 22 March, the GoP rolled out stricter suppression measures in the West Bank, preventing movement between governorates, closing all non-essential facilities, and asking our citizens in the West Bank to stay at home for 14 days.

However, the State of Palestine faces significant challenges in this effort, including a severely under-equipped health sector and an existing fiscal crisis caused by the Government of Israel (GoI) withholding of revenue. The COVID-19 and the emergency measures that the GoP is taking is and will continue to have a significantly negative impact on our economy, which will lead to (i) shrinking revenues (by at least 40%) that limit the GoP’s ability to maintain existing level of services and (ii) increasing needs for immediate economic support and longer-term economic recovery.

We plan to work jointly with our humanitarian and development partners to respond efficiently and accountably to this crisis. We are further seeking financial and diplomatic support to ensure an effective and sustainable response to COVID-19.

The purpose of this plan is to:

  • Present the GoP’s strategy and actions;

  • Propose an aid coordination approach;

  • Identify the critical support needs, including for: public health response to COVID-19; budget support to maintain government services; and diplomatic engagement with regional partners; and

  • Describe our expectations of the longer-term economic impact of COVID-19 and required economic recovery actions.

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World: Les dépenses de santé doivent immédiatement doubler dans les pays pauvres pour éviter des millions de décès

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 01:40:36 +0000

Countries: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Jordan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Zambia
Source: Oxfam

Oxfam a appelé aujourd’hui à une enveloppe de près de 160 milliards de dollars afin d’annuler immédiatement les dettes et de financer un plan mondial de santé publique et d’intervention d’urgence pour sauver des millions de vies face à la pandémie de coronavirus.

Ce plan en cinq points permettrait aux pays pauvres de prendre des mesures pour prévenir la propagation de la maladie et renforcer les capacités des systèmes de santé à prendre en charge les personnes touchées.

La pandémie a causé de grandes souffrances dans les pays riches, submergeant certains des meilleurs systèmes de santé du monde. Or, compte tenu que la maladie a désormais atteint de nombreux pays en développement marqués par un taux élevé de pauvreté et de fortes inégalités, la propagation va s’accélérer et les défis de santé publique seront d’autant plus importants. Près de 3 milliards de personnes dans les pays en développement n’ont pas accès à de l’eau potable, et des millions d’autres n’ont pas de soins de santé adéquats et vivent dans des bidonvilles surpeuplés ou des camps de réfugié-e-s où les mesures d’isolement social sont impossibles à mettre en œuvre. Les femmes seront le plus durement touchées, car elles représentent 70 % des travailleurs et travailleuses de la santé et assument la plupart du fardeau de soins non rémunérés dans le monde.

Jose Maria Vera, directeur général intérimaire d’Oxfam International, a fait la déclaration suivante : « Au Mali, il n’y a que trois respirateurs pour un million de personnes. En Zambie, il n’y a qu’un médecin pour 10 000 personnes. Forte de son expérience dans la lutte contre le virus Ebola, Oxfam sait qu’une action rapide permettrait de ralentir la propagation de cette maladie et d’enrayer son impact catastrophique. Cependant, il faut agir dès maintenant, et à une échelle jamais vue auparavant. Sans une action urgente, ambitieuse et historique, nous pourrions facilement assister à la plus grande crise humanitaire depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale. »

L’Imperial College de Londres estime que jusqu’à 40 millions de personnes dans le monde pourraient perdre la vie si nous ne prenons pas des mesures urgentes. Oxfam a calculé qu’il faudrait 159,5 milliards de dollars pour doubler les dépenses de santé des 85 pays les plus pauvres, où vit près de la moitié de la population mondiale. Ce montant représente moins de 10 % du plan de relance économique proposé aux États-Unis en réaction au coronavirus. Si certains bailleurs institutionnels ont commencé à augmenter leur financement, ces fonds restent largement insuffisants pour répondre à ce défi colossal.

Oxfam travaille avec des partenaires locaux, des ministères de la Santé et les principales agences des Nations Unies dans 65 pays pour répondre à la crise et aider à sauver des vies. À Cox’s Bazar, au Bangladesh, où plus de 855 000 Rohingyas vivent dans des camps de fortune, Oxfam a déjà renforcé les mesures préventives telles que la distribution de savon et la mise en place de stations pour se laver les mains dans les installations communes pour aider quelque 70 000 réfugié-e-s. Dans le camp de Zaatari, en Jordanie, qui est le plus grand camp de réfugié-e-s syrien-ne-s au monde, Oxfam a déjà commencé à sensibiliser 2 000 enfants à l’hygiène et à l’importance de se laver les mains. L’objectif serait de desservir 78 000 personnes en eau, hygiène et assainissement. Enfin, au Burkina Faso, où 780 000 personnes sont déplacées à l’intérieur du pays, Oxfam travaille actuellement dans certaines des plus grandes zones de déplacé-e-s internes pour s’assurer que les communautés d’accueil et les personnes déplacées ont accès à de l’eau potable. Tous les gouvernements doivent appuyer et financer intégralement le plan mondial de réponse humanitaire des Nations Unies afin de répondre aux besoins humanitaires criants qui se présentent.

Oxfam exhorte le G20 et les autres gouvernements du monde à s’attaquer de front au virus en adoptant un ambitieux plan mondial de santé publique et de réponse d’urgence. Dans ce plan en cinq points, nous demandons :

  1. Un énorme investissement dans la prévention. Promotion de la santé publique, mobilisation communautaire, accès des intervenant-e-s humanitaires aux pays dans le besoin, approvisionnement en eau potable et mise en place d’installations sanitaires, en particulier pour que les gens puissent se laver les mains.

  2. La mobilisation de 10 millions de nouveaux travailleurs et travailleuses de la santé rémunéré-e-s et protégé-e-s. Conjointement avec l’acheminement en toute urgence de fonds et d’équipement pour les intervenant-e-s locaux et les humanitaires sur le terrain.

  3. La gratuité des soins de santé. Tous les soins de santé, les tests et les traitements doivent être gratuits.

  4. La réquisition par les gouvernements de tous les établissements de santé privés. Les gouvernements doivent réquisitionner l’ensemble des capacités de soins de santé de leur pays, en veillant à ce que tous les établissements, tant privés que publics, se consacrent à lutter contre ce virus et à répondre aux autres besoins de santé essentiels.

  5. La disponibilité des vaccins et des traitements en tant que bien public mondial. Nous devons parvenir à un accord mondial pour veiller à ce que les vaccins et les traitements, lorsque prêts, soient rapidement et gratuitement mis à la disposition de ceux et celles qui en ont besoin. Les profits des entreprises pharmaceutiques ne peuvent avoir préséance sur le bien et l’avenir de l’humanité.

« Il est compréhensible que les dirigeant-e-s du monde s’emploient à aider leurs propres citoyen-ne-s, mais le G20 doit également se pencher sur la situation des pays pauvres et leur venir en aide. Nous ne vaincrons cette pandémie que si nous agissons en solidarité avec chaque pays, en aidant chaque personne. Personne ne sera en sécurité tant que nous ne le sommes pas tou-te-s. », ajoute M. Vera.

Notes aux rédactions

Le rapport d’Oxfam intitulé Comment aborder la catastrophe du Coronavirusest disponible sur demande.

Oxfam International est une confédération de 20 affiliés indépendants. L’année dernière, elle a aidé plus de 19 millions de personnes en leur fournissant notamment de l’eau potable, des installations sanitaires, de la nourriture et des abris.

Contact

Anna Ratcliff - + 44 7796 993 288 / anna.ratcliff@oxfam.org (UK)

Lisa Rutherford - + 44 7917 791 836 / lrutherford@oxfam.org.uk (UK)

Nesrine Aly - + 447503989838 / nesrine.aly@oxfam.org (Kenya)

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India: Massive landslide damages Jammu-Srinagar NH, 28 houses in Ramban; many homeless

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 01:31:54 +0000

Country: India
Source: Times of India

JAMMU: A massive landslide on Saturday damaged a 500m-stretch of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway and 28 houses in Dalwas village along the highway in J&K’s Ramban district, leaving many homeless.

Traffic on the national highway has been suspended since Friday afternoon after heavy rains triggered landslides and shooting stones from hillocks at nearly a dozen places between Chanderkote and Banihal. The highway was also blocked by debris of the landslide, leaving hundreds of trucks carrying essential commodities stranded for the third day.

The 28 houses in Ramban were damaged so badly that they are dangerous to live in and the district authorities have evacuated residents to safer locations, and people had to be evacuated from 12 partly-damaged houses as they too are dangerous.

Soon after receiving reports of a massive landslide along with the sinking of the highway stretch, a team of officers along with rescue teams from police and CRPF's 84 Battalion at Chanderkote rushed to the village and started rescue operations on Saturday. “The timely rescue operation resulted in no loss of precious life but only to the property. The affected families, approximately 40 in number, have been accommodated in nearby schools and other locations,” an official said.

Ramban additional deputy commissioner Ashok Kumar Sharma, who is supervising relief and rescue operation, told TOI on phone that incessant rains over past two days had caused the landslide and sinking of land in Dalwas village near Chanderkote of Ramban district.

The district administration is making all necessary arrangements for the affected families and shifted them to government schools and panchayat ghars for shelter. They have also been sanctioned ration for three months. “The team is on the job to assess losses suffered by the families,” he added.

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World: $160bn needed to prevent millions of Coronavirus deaths in poor countries - Oxfam

Mon, 30 Mar 2020 00:01:00 +0000

Countries: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, China, Jordan, Lebanon, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, World
Source: Oxfam

Oxfam today called for a package of nearly $160 billion (£130bn) in immediate debt cancellation and aid to fund a global emergency and public health response to help prevent millions of deaths as a result of the Coronavirus.

The funding would enable poor countries to take action to prevent the spread of the disease and improve health systems to care for those affected.

The pandemic has caused widespread suffering in rich countries, overwhelming some of the best healthcare systems in the world. But with the disease now spreading to many poor countries where high levels of poverty and inequality risk accelerating the disease, the public health challenges are even greater. In Mali there are just three ventilators for one million people. In Zambia, one doctor for 10,000 people.

Nearly three billion people across the developing world do not have access to clean water, millions more do not have adequate healthcare and live in crowded slums or refugee camps where social isolation is impossible. As women make up 70 per cent of health workers and carry out most unpaid care work, it will hit them the hardest.

Danny Sriskandarajah, chief executive, Oxfam GB said:

“Coronavirus is bringing misery and suffering to rich and poor. But for millions of people in overcrowded refugee camps without clean water, already weakened by hunger and disease, and in countries with little or no health facilities the impact could be catastrophic.

“Just as our collective efforts in the UK are rightly focused on helping those who are currently feeling the terrible brunt of the virus, it is critical that we act to prevent its spread unchecked amongst the poorest and most vulnerable countries.”

Imperial College estimates that without urgent action the Coronavirus could have caused as many as 40 million deaths in the coming year, with poorer countries facing a higher burden. Oxfam calculates that doubling the health spending of the 85 poorest countries, home to nearly half the world’s population, would cost $159.5 billion. This is less than 10 per cent of the US fiscal stimulus to fight Coronavirus. While some donor institutions have begun to increase funding, the scale is not yet anywhere near the immense size of the challenge.

Governments including the UK must also urgently fund the UN’s $2 billion appeal to meet the desperate need now emerging in countries like Syria and Yemen already suffering from major humanitarian crises.

Oxfam is calling for the G20 and other national governments to tackle the virus head on by agreeing an ambitious Global Public Health Plan and Emergency Response. The five-point plan calls for:

  1. Huge investment in prevention. Public health promotion, community engagement, access for humanitarian workers and provision of clean water and sanitation, especially handwashing
  2. 10 million new paid and protected health workers. Together with urgent funding and equipment for local responders and humanitarians already on the ground
  3. Healthcare must be free. All fees for health should be removed, and free testing and treatment delivered
  4. Governments must requisition all private facilities. Governments must requisition all healthcare capacity in their countries, ensuring that all facilities, private and public are directed towards fighting this virus and meeting all other essential healthcare needs.
  5. Vaccines and treatments must be a global public good. Global agreement must be reached that vaccines and treatments, when ready, will be made rapidly available to everyone who needs it free of charge. The profits of pharmaceutical corporations cannot be put ahead of the future of humanity.

Oxfam is working with local partners, governments and key UN agencies in 65 countries in response to the crisis and help save lives. This includes preventive measures like distributing soap and building handwashing stations in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazaar, clean water, sanitation and hygiene in Zaatari camp in Jordan and providing beds, handwashing facilities and protective clothing in quarantine centres in Gaza.

Ends

For more information and interviews, please contact:

Lisa Rutherford: + 44 7917 791 836 / lrutherford@oxfam.org.uk or

Tania Corbett: +44 7824 824 359 tcorbett1@oxfam.org.uk

Notes to editor

Oxfam’s policy briefing *How to Confront the Coronavirus Catastrophe *is available here

Oxfam International is a confederation of 20 independent affiliates and last year, helped over 19 million people with support including clean water, sanitation, food and shelter.

Oxfam’s response to the virus includes:

·In Burkina Faso, where 780,000 people are internally displaced, Oxfam is currently working to ensure that displaced people and the communities in which they are living have access to safe, clean water.

·In Pakistan Oxfam has installed water tanks providing at quarantine centres so they have a clean water supply.

·In Lebanon, a public health awareness campaign is underway in informal settlements of refugees, and hotlines and WhatsApp groups have been created. We are also preparing extra toilets, handwashing facilities and water tanks for families who may need to self-quarantine.

·In China, we have been working with our local partners to help those at the greatest risk of catching the virus in poor communities, by distributing protective supplies and food to vulnerable groups (such as impoverished people with HIV/AIDs, migrant families, cleaning workers, low income workers, domestic helpers)

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World: Mobility restrictions on countries points of entry in response to COVID-19: Data available of 108 countries as of 26 March 2020

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 23:40:53 +0000

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Country: World
Source: International Organization for Migration

Summary for Points Of Entry Baseline Assessment — 108 Countries as of 26 March 2020

The current outbreak of COVID-19 has affected global mobility in the form of various travel disruptions, restrictions and blockages. To better understand how COVID-19 affects global mobility, DTM has developed a global mobility database mapping the locations, status and different restrictions of points of entry and exit, globally. Between 8 and 26 March 2020, data was collected in 1,670 locations across 108 countries across Europe, South and Central America, Africa, Middle East and Asia.

Of the 1, 670 locations, 224 did not have any movement restrictions imposed at the time of data collection. These locations were excluded from the analysis. Moreover, this report does not include internal transit locations (74 in total). As a result, 1,372 locations are included in the analysis. These locations include: 732 land border crossings, 293 airports, 178 water ports (including sea, river and lake ports), 169 areas (including regions, cities, towns or sub-administrative units). For the purposes of this analysis, countries are grouped in four geographical regions: 35 countries in Africa, 18 in Central and South America, 32 countries in Europe and 22 countries in the Middle East and Asia.

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World: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Situation Report - 69 (29 March 2020)

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 22:10:03 +0000

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Country: World
Source: World Health Organization

HIGHLIGHTS

• One new country/territory/area reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours: The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

• The COVID-19 Solidarity Fund has now received donations of more than US$ 108 million, from 203,000 individuals and organizations. To donate and for more information: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel- coronavirus-2019/donate.

• WHO, together with national authorities, is monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s mental health, and providing information and guidance to governments and the public. On 27 March, WHO European Region published an article on mental health and psychological resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic; highlighting the potential mental health impacts on children and the elderly. For more information, http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus- covid-19/news/news/2020/3/mental-health-and-psychological-resilience- during-the-covid-19-pandemic.

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oPt: 6 Human Rights Organizations Call for Release of Prisoners amid Corona Crisis

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 22:00:46 +0000

Country: occupied Palestinian territory
Sources: Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights Israel

The severe crowding in IPS facilities makes it impossible to maintain a two-meter distance between people, as recommended by the Ministry of Health.

On Thursday, March 19, 2020, six human rights organizations contacted the minister of public security, the attorney general and the Pardon Department of the Ministry of Justice to act promptly to reduce prison populations due to the corona pandemic.

The letter was sent on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights Israel; The Association for Civil Rights in Israel; Al Mezan Center for Human Rights; The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants; HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual and The Public Committee against Torture in Israel.

In their letter, the organizations noted that despite the efforts the Israel Prison Service (IPS) is making to prevent the spread of the virus, prisons cannot be completely isolated from the outside world, and many experts believe preparations must be made for its spread within the prison system. The severe crowding in IPS facilities makes it impossible to maintain a two-meter distance between people, as recommended by the Ministry of Health. In addition to this, about 6,000 inmates who suffer from chronic conditions and hundreds of older inmates are at higher risk for contracting the virus.

In these circumstances, the organizations urged the authorities to take action now, before a prison infection, and use different tools to reduce the prison population, which would decrease the risk of infection and help manage the crisis. The organizations listed several steps the authorities could take, such as releasing prisoners nearing the end of their sentence early (administrative release), using detention alternatives, sending eligible prisoners on vacation and releasing non-dangerous prisoners such as immigrants and refugees held in custody pursuant to the Entry into Israel Law.

Keeping inmates in jail in the current conditions puts both their own health and the health of the IPS staff who come into contact with them at risk and impedes efforts to maintain public health. It also defies both Israeli and international law, which require care for the health of prisoners.

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oPt: PHRI to COGAT and the Ministry of Health: Israel has a responsibility towards Palestinians’ health in the time of corona

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 21:56:45 +0000

Country: occupied Palestinian territory
Source: Physicians for Human Rights Israel

In a letter to the director general of the Ministry of Health and the coordinator of government activities in the Territories, PHRI recalled Israel’s moral and legal obligations towards Palestinians in the OPT, and asked what plans are in place to address the coronavirus.

Physicians for Human Rights Israel contacted the Ministry of Health and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (March 11) to remind them of Israel’s obligations toward Palestinians living in the OPT. In its letter, PHRI asked how prepared Israel was to provide aid to the strained Palestinian health care system, particularly to the Gaza Strip, in the event of a corona outbreak. In addition, PHRI inquired about which preparations were being made to continue allowing patients, including those with serious conditions, to exit Gaza for treatment during the coronavirus crisis.

Many elements of health care preparedness in Gaza depend on Israel’s control over the crossings between Gaza and Israel and the ongoing siege. Because of this, out of a sense of responsibility, a moral obligation and under international law, Israel should allocate some of its resources to strengthen the Gazan healthcare system to circumvent the existing shortages.

Inquiries regarding the reality on the ground made with officials within the Palestinian health care system and civil society organizations in Gaza have made it clear that Gaza is not equipped to handle a coronavirus outbreak. Despite the measures taken by the government in Gaza to try and prevent an outbreak, the current situation there remains alarming. Gaza suffers from shortages of basic disinfectants, ICU beds, medicine and ventilators. In addition, there is a shortage of medical staff trained in treating corona patients. The existing isolation facilities in the Strip are illequipped to handle an outbreak..

It is important to remember the overall condition of Gaza’s health care system: restrictions on the entry of supplies and medicine, restrictions on travel by medical crews and on their access to crucial training, which have produced a shortage of specialists. Public health conditions in Gaza are also extremely poor with an ongoing water and electricity crisis, high poverty and unemployment rates and overcrowding.

Given all this, we asked that Israel see to it that items in short supply are provided to the Gaza Ministry of Health in order to optimize its response to the virus outbreak. We also asked that the Israeli authorities enter into a dialogue with the Gaza Ministry of Health to ensure Gaza patients who require non-elective treatment that is not available locally are able to receive it in Gaza, given that they will not be able to exit the Strip as the crossings have closed.

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World: Severe Acute Respiratory Infections Treatment Centre: Practical manual to set up and manage a SARI treatment centre and a SARI screening facility in health care facilities

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 20:39:33 +0000

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Country: World
Source: World Health Organization

Foreword

This is the first edition of the practical manual to set up and manage a severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) treatment centre and a SARI screening facility in health-care facilities. The document has been developed to meet the operational needs emerging with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The information presented has been compiled to provide the reader with a thorough understanding of the principles driving the design process of COVID-19 screening areas and SARI treatment centres for healthcare facilities. The current manual incorporates the latest information available at the date of publication.

Various practical tools are presented in the annexes and more technical guidance are available at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-...

This document is intended for health managers and planners, architects, engineers, logistics, water and sanitation staff, clinical and nursing staff, carers and other health-care providers, as well as health promoters.

The authors welcome any remarks or critical comments from those using this guide, so as to allow revision in keeping with the realities of working in the field.

Comments should be addressed to:

World Health Organization Avenue Appia 20 1202 Geneva, Switzerland Email: oslhealthtech@who.int

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La CIDH y su REDESCA manifiestan profunda preocupación por los efectos de la pandemia COVID-19 en Venezuela y llama a garantizar derechos de las personas venezolanas en la región

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 19:55:26 +0000

Country: Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
Source: Organization of American States

Washington, D.C – La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) y su Relatoría Especial sobre Derechos Económicos, Sociales, Culturales y Ambientales (REDESCA) en el marco de su recientemente instalada, Sala de Coordinación y Respuesta Oportuna e Integrada (SACROI - COVID19), reconocen la complejidad que enfrentan los Estados y las sociedades en todo el mundo debido a las medidas excepcionales que buscan responder a la pandemia ocasionada por el coronavirus COVID-19 que avanza en forma exponencial y que, al 26 de marzo, ya se había cobrado al menos 21.031 vidas a nivel global y 1.330 en el hemisferio occidental. Esto supone desafíos extraordinarios desde el punto de vista de los sistemas sanitarios, la vida cotidiana de las personas e incluso para la vigencia de los derechos humanos. En ese contexto, la CIDH y su REDESCA advierten con grave preocupación los efectos de la pandemia ante la situación de extrema vulnerabilidad de las personas venezolanas debido a la profunda y prolongada crisis humanitaria que atraviesa ese país.

La pandemia del COVID-19 demanda una actitud responsable y solidaria por parte de todos los Estados, instituciones nacionales e internacionales, así como de la ciudadanía en general. La Comisión y su REDESCA han venido observando como la grave de situación de derechos humanos que afecta a las venezolanas y los venezolanos en los últimos años se ha profundizado debido a la crisis humanitaria que ha generado la mayor crisis de desplazamiento de las Américas, y que llevó a cerca de 5 millones de personas venezolanas a desplazarse. En este complejo contexto, las autoridades de Venezuela tienen la obligación de adoptar medidas serias y exhaustivas de atención y de contención del COVID-19; a la vez que los países de acogida deben redoblar esfuerzos para garantizar el derecho a la salud de las personas y mitigar los efectos de un potencial contagio masivo.

En efecto, a través de su constante monitoreo sobre la situación de derechos humanos, y su reciente visita in loco a la frontera colombo-venezolana, la CIDH y su REDESCA han podido verificar que Venezuela atraviesa por una crisis humanitaria sin precedentes. Esto ha repercutido profundamente en el goce de los derechos humanos, especialmente de los derechos económicos, sociales, culturales y ambientales (DESCA) de gran parte de la población; particularmente, de aquellos colectivos en situación de vulnerabilidad, discriminación o exclusión histórica. En tal sentido, la Comisión y su REDESCA recuerdan el carácter interdependiente e indivisible de todos los derechos humanos, así como la interseccionalidad en cuanto a sus afectaciones, lo que como han venido sosteniendo se observa con particular claridad en el caso venezolano.

En cuanto a las condiciones para una adecuada atención de salud, la CIDH y su REDESCA han advertido reiteradamente sobre el deterioro progresivo de la red hospitalaria en Venezuela, cuyos centros médicos cuentan en general con infraestructura inadecuada y escasez de insumos básicos, así como de personal médico calificado. Gran parte de los centros de salud de Venezuela no cuentan de forma continua con agua potable, electricidad, insumos de higiene y profilaxis, equipos quirúrgicos, laboratorios para controles de transfusiones sanguíneas, material para esterilizar los instrumentos, vacunas para inmunizaciones básicas, ascensores operativos, ni medios de contraste para realizar diagnósticos. A ello se suma un clima de persecución, acoso y hostigamiento en contra de las y los profesionales de la salud, como de las personas que protestan por la falta de equipos y de insumos para brindar una atención de calidad a las personas enfermas. Particularmente, la Comisión y su REDESCA han recibido información sobre la crítica situación del Hospital José Manuel de los Ríos, el mayor centro pediátrico del país, y del Hospital Maternidad Concepción Palacios, uno de los principales centros de atención obstétrica a nivel nacional. Ambos hospitales han sido beneficiarios de medidas cautelares otorgadas por la CIDH, que hasta la fecha no han sido cumplidas por parte del Estado.

La situación de las personas en Venezuela se ve agravada por la insuficiencia de alimentos en calidad y cantidad suficiente, por la baja remuneración salarial y la hiperinflación, así como por la suspensión generalizada y frecuente de servicios públicos como el agua potable, el gas natural o la energía eléctrica. La confluencia de estos factores en el contexto de una pandemia conlleva a que las personas estén imposibilitadas para tomar las medidas necesarias esenciales de profilaxis y prevención, como el lavado frecuente de manos con jabón y agua o el aislamiento en sus casas, lo que aumentaría el riesgo de contacto con el virus y de contagio.

Ante este panorama, la Comisión y su REDESCA hacen un llamado enérgico para que las autoridades de Venezuela adopten medidas dirigidas a garantizar el derecho a la salud de todas las personas sin discriminación, acogiendo un enfoque diferenciado que priorice el bienestar de las personas mayores y de otros grupos especialmente afectados por el COVID-19, con perspectiva de igualdad de género. Para tal propósito, es indispensable que se produzca información veraz y transparente, sin que haya restricciones indebidas en el acceso a la información relacionada con la pandemia y las acciones de contención. Adicionalmente, advierten de manera enfática que la persecución, intimidación y acoso a profesionales de la salud que denuncian la falta de equipamiento y el mal manejo epidemiológico de la crisis, no sólo es incompatible con los objetivos de manejo de una crisis sanitaria por parte del Estado, sino manifiestamente contrario con sus obligaciones internacionales en materia de derechos humanos.

Adicionalmente, la CIDH por intermedio de su Relatoría Especial para la Libertad de Expresión (RELE) tuvo noticias de que el día 21 de marzo, el periodista Darvinson Rojas habría sido detenido junto a sus padres por las Fuerzas de Acciones Especiales (FAES), sin orden de captura, presuntamente para realizarle una prueba COVID-19, luego de que el periodista publicara en la red social Twitter estadísticas del COVID-19 en el estado de Miranda. La Comisión y su RELE recuerdan que el periodismo cumple una función crucial en el contexto de la pandemia, al difundir información vital y monitorear acciones de los Estados; y que las personas periodistas no deben ser detenidas o acusadas por informar o cuestionar datos oficiales.

Por otra parte, la CIDH y su REDESCA toman nota de las medidas adoptadas por las autoridades venezolanas, según anuncio público del día 22 de marzo, entre las que se encuentran: la suspensión de pagos por alquiler de bienes raíces por seis meses en todo el país; la suspensión de la moratoria de intereses en algunos créditos, incluyendo la moratoria general de la cartera comercial de la banca; y la prohibición de suspensión de servicios de telecomunicaciones y de servicios públicos por 6 meses. La CIDH y su REDESCA llaman al Estado para que estas u otras medidas de carácter económico y social que se adopten sean aplicadas de manera equitativa y con arreglo a los estándares internacionales de derechos humanos, tomando en cuenta las diferentes realidades y necesidades de la población venezolana, sin que en ningún caso sean utilizadas como mecanismos de coerción o discriminación política ni de cualquier otra índole.

Al respecto, la CIDH y su REDESCA destacan la declaración de la Alta Comisionada de Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, Michelle Bachelet, formulada el 24 de marzo pasado, pidiendo que las sanciones sectoriales de amplio espectro que se aplican a países que se enfrentan a la pandemia del COVID-19 sean objeto de una reevaluación urgente en vista de su posible repercusión negativa sobre el sector de la salud y los derechos humanos.

Situación de las personas migrantes forzadas venezolanas en la región

En su Comunicado de Prensa No. 60/20, la Comisión ya se ha pronunciado sobre la naturaleza compleja de la emergencia epidemiológica global actual y sobre la necesidad de que los Estados sigan los estándares más elevados de protección integral de los derechos humanos en sus respuestas. En este contexto, la CIDH, en conjunto con sus relatorías especiales, subraya que el fenómeno migratorio forzado venezolano refuerza la necesidad de acciones coordinadas, cooperación internacional e intercambio de informaciones y buenas prácticas poniendo en el centro de las acciones la integralidad de los derechos humanos.

En términos generales, la Comisión resalta que la pandemia del COVID-19 no puede ser utilizada como excusa para que los Estados evadan sus obligaciones de derecho interno e internacional en relación con poblaciones que necesitan especial protección. En este sentido, la CIDH observa con gran preocupación los impactos desproporcionados producidos sobre las personas venezolanas migrantes, refugiadas y con necesidades de protección internacional generados por las medidas dirigidas a la contención del COVID-19 en los principales países de acogida y de tránsito en la región. La Comisión reconoce la necesidad de adoptar medidas para prevenir la propagación del COVID-19, no obstante, advierte que dichas medidas no se deben fusionar con políticas y mecanismos migratorios que resulten en la ruptura del principio de no devolución (non-refoulement) u obstaculicen el acceso a los instrumentos de protección adecuados.

La CIDH reconoce, también, que la crisis epidemiológica puede constituir un factor de desplazamiento forzado. En efecto, la profundización de la pandemia del COVID-19 puede conducir a nuevos flujos migratorios en la región, particularmente entre los grupos sociales con más débil red de protección social. Tal fenómeno exige que los Estados estén preparados para incorporar en sus mecanismos de respuesta nuevas capacidades de acogida. En el caso de las personas migrantes, refugiadas y con necesidades especiales de protección internacional provenientes de Venezuela, la pandemia tiene el potencial de reforzar los factores de desplazamiento ya existentes, como la búsqueda de atención en salud. Bajo el punto de vista de la protección integral de los derechos humanos, la CIDH y su REDESCA hacen un urgente llamado a los países de la región a que cumplan sus obligaciones en materia de asilo y refugio, y a que brinden medidas de atención y tratamiento de salud sin ningún tipo de discriminación. Asimismo, recuerdan que toda persona, independientemente de su situación migratoria o de su origen, tiene derecho a recibir la misma atención médica que los nacionales del país de tránsito o acogida.

La Comisión y su REDESCA observan con preocupación que, en varios países de acogida de migrantes, se están adoptando medidas tendientes al cierre parcial o total de fronteras con Venezuela, intensificación de operativos migratorios y disminución de la capacidad en los servicios de atención y distribución de documentos. Por ejemplo, se recibió información sobre restricciones al derecho a la circulación adoptadas a los dos lados de la frontera entre Venezuela y Colombia, incluyendo el cierre general de la frontera del lado colombiano y la apertura de un corredor humanitario para personas que requieren atención médica. En este contexto, la CIDH y su REDESCA reiteran que es necesario que se garantice el acceso a la salud a las personas venezolanas con enfermedades crónicas y se haga una evaluación del impacto de las medidas que restringen la circulación fronteriza sobre las miles de personas venezolanas y colombo-venezolanas que diariamente cruzaban a Colombia para alimentarse.

Igualmente, la Comisión y su REDESCA consideran urgente que los Estados incorporen en sus programas y planes de prevención y asistencia las necesidades de emergencia de los cerca de 5 millones de personas venezolanas fuera de su territorio, entre otros millones de personas refugiadas y desplazadas en la región, que serán especialmente afectadas por la crisis epidemiológica. Al respecto, la Comisionada Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, Relatora para Venezuela, expresó su profunda preocupación por la vida, la salud y la integridad de las venezolanas y los venezolanos tanto dentro como fuera de su país; e hizo un llamado a la solidaridad regional para brindarles la asistencia humanitaria y la protección internacional que requieren.

La REDESCA es una Oficina autónoma de la CIDH, especialmente creada para apoyar a la Comisión en el cumplimiento de su mandato de promoción y protección de los derechos económicos, sociales, culturales y ambientales en el continente americano.

La CIDH es un órgano principal y autónomo de la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA), cuyo mandato surge de la Carta de la OEA y de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos. La Comisión Interamericana tiene el mandato de promover la observancia y la defensa de los derechos humanos en la región y actúa como órgano consultivo de la OEA en la materia. La CIDH está integrada por siete miembros independientes que son elegidos por la Asamblea General de la OEA a título personal, y no representan sus países de origen o residencia.

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