Response to COVID-19 in Wavel Palestinian Refugee Camp
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 carpentry 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 around Lebanon to build 25 gates for camps and communities.
The gates are equipped to spray bleach solutions that sterilize vehicles and individuals. In coordination with Anera’s valued local partner, Najdeh Association, and the local popular committee, 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 Government of the Netherlands.