Weekly Humanitarian News Digest – April 2

Each week, we highlight the latest news related to the humanitarian and health crises in our countries of operation: Bangladesh/ Myanmar, Colombia/ Venezuela, Gaza/ Palestinan Territories, Greece, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. For more frequent updates, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Cover Image: Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency

Latest News for March 26 – April 2, 2021

Bangladesh/ Myanmar 

The UN is surging aid to support the 48,000 Rohingya refugees who were displaced in March when a fire burned through Kutupalong-Balukhali refugee camp. At least 11 people were killed in the fire and more than 300 people are still missing. Hospitals, learning centers, and aid distribution centers are in need of repair and UNHCR is appealing to international donors for $5.9 million to support the response. (Voice of America)

Colombia/ Venezuela 

An estimated 4,700 Venezuelans have fled into Colombia after the Venezuelan military began launching attacks against armed groups along the border. The Colombian government is working with UNHCR and other humanitarian aid groups to provide food and assistance to displaced persons. Though the Venezuelan government has declared it safe for displaced Venezuelans to return, many in the shelters in Colombia are hesitant to go back. (Aljazeera)

Colombia has ramped up its vaccination campaign in response to evidence of a third wave of COVID-19 infections. The recent surge of new cases corresponds with the confirmation that the Brazilian variant of COVID-19, which is more infectious and deadly, has been spreading in Colombia. The Ministry of Health has reported that daily vaccinations reached 120,000 on March 26, more than double from a week earlier. Colombia plans to vaccinate 35 million people by the end of 2021. (Colombia Reports)

Gaza/ Palestinian Territories

COVID-19 cases in Gaza have spiked with more than 1,000 new cases reported in a single day, the highest daily infection rate in several months. Gaza has reported over 65,500 cases of COVID-19 and 610 deaths since the pandemic began. The enclave has received 80,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and as of Monday, at least 69,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have received an initial vaccination. (Aljazeera


Protests broke out in a migrant detention center on Corinth after a Kurdish asylum seeker died by suicide. The 24-year-old man had been held in the center for 16 months and had recently had his detention extended. Earlier that week, a 44-year-old man in a different detention camp died of peritonitis after allegedly being denied medical treatment. Human rights and refugee advocacy groups have condemned conditions in the detention centers. (InfoMigrants)


Lebanon’s private sector has purchased 1 million doses of Russian vaccines in support of the national vaccination campaign. An initial batch of 50,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines arrived on March 26, which will be followed by deliveries of 100,000-200,000 doses every three weeks. Lebanon has previously received nearly 225,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine through funding from the World Bank and 33,600 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine from the COVAX program. The country has reported 455,381 cases of COVID-19 and 6,013 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. (Associated Press)


Pakistan is introducing new restrictions in an attempt to manage its third waves of COVID-19 infections. On March 28, the country experienced its fourth consecutive day of more than 4,000 new infections, which has not happened since cases peaked in June of last year. Public gatherings are now banned and new social distancing and travel restrictions are going into effect in all areas with a positive rate above 8%. In the capital, the positive rate for tests has risen to 16%. (Aljazeera)


According to UNHCR, 13.4 million people in Sudan will need humanitarian assistance in 2021. The ongoing economic crisis, outbreaks of COVID-19, and historic flooding across the country in 2020 have led to high levels of poverty and food insecurity. An estimated 2.5 million Sudanese are internally displaced. UNHCR and its partners are currently appealing for $574 million to fund assistance efforts for more than one million refugees in the country, including 762,000 South Sudanese refugees. (ReliefWeb)


The UN and other aid groups are seeking $10 billion dollars to fund the Syrian humanitarian response. More than $4 billion is needed for programs within Syria and an additional $5.8 billion is needed to assist the 6 million Syrians who have fled the country. An estimated 90% of Syria’s population now lives below the poverty line and the UN estimates that half the population is in need of assistance. Food prices have risen 222% from last year and around three in four people in northwest Syria are food insecure. Water needs have also increased 40% due to the pandemic and cuts to aid in northwest Syria could result in 740,000 people losing access to water. (Associated Press)


Yemen has received its first batch COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX program. The 360,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine were delivered on March 31 along with 1.3 million syringes. Health workers and other priority groups will receive the first vaccinations. By the end of 2021, COVAX expects to deliver a total of 1.9 million doses to Yemen. (UN News)