Weekly Humanitarian News Digest – February 5

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: UNOCHA

Latest News for January 29 – February 5, 2021

Bangladesh/ Myanmar 

The military coup in Myanmar has renewed fears among Rohingya refugees of persecution at the hands of the military should they return. The Rohingya are denied citizenship and basic rights in Myanmar and were the victims of what the UN has described as a genocidal campaign by Myanmar’s military in 2017. Bangladesh has repeatedly attempted to repatriate the Rohingya it hosts and still hopes to begin returning refugees to Myanmar in June. (ABC News)

Colombia/ Venezuela 

Colombia plans to begin a mass vaccination campaign for COVID-19 on February 20. The goal is to vaccinate one million people by the end of March. Colombia will ultimately need to vaccinate 34 million people in order to achieve herd immunity and has currently secured 35 million doses of vaccines. The country has recorded two million cases of COVID-19 and 53,000 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic. (Reuters)

Human trafficking and sexual assault of Venezuelan refugees has drastically increased during COVID-19. Colombia’s border closure has led migrants seeking to enter Colombia to rely on smuggling routes where they are often at the mercy of gangs. Female migrants are increasingly victims of sexual violence and many are forced into prostitution. Victims often do not report the crimes and avoid seeking medical care due to fears of deportation. (NPR)

Gaza/ Palestinian Territories

Qatar will provide $360 million to Gaza in order to pay salaries, provide aid to poor families, and operate power stations. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the humanitarian situation in Gaza that was already worsening due to Israel and Egypt’s blockade of the enclave. According to a UN report from 2018, 80% of people living in Gaza depend on international aid. (Middle East Monitor)


Greece’s migration minister, Notis Mitarakis, reported that Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos is now equipped for winter. Camp residents have confirmed some improvements, such as the first ever access to hot showers and additional toilets, but still face problems with flooding due to poor drainage in the camp. Greece plans to build five new camps on its islands to redistribute migrants and improve conditions for next winter. (Info Migrants)


Syrian refugees in Lebanon are struggling to recover from the consequences of the Beirut blast back in August. The challenges refugees faced in affording food and shelter were magnified by the explosion that killed 200 people and left 300,000 homeless. Assistance from international and national organizations is thinly stretched among the population as 75% of Lebanese are in need of some form of aid. In 2020, half of Syrian families in Lebanon experienced food shortages. (Reuters)


Pakistan has secured 17 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine through COVAX. An initial six million doses will arrive in the first quarter of 2021 and the rest will arrive by summer. (Reuters)


Violence in South Darfur has displaced roughly 15,000 people from 11 villages. Displaced persons lack both food and shelter. Adam Karameddin, the head of the Humanitarian Aid Commission in South Darfur, has stated the need for teams to evaluate the humanitarian situation and determine needs. (Radio Dabanga


According to UN OCHA, recent flooding in northwest Syria affected at least 121,000 people across 304 sites. Nearly 22,000 tents were damaged or destroyed, leaving displaced persons dealing with contaminated water and freezing temperatures. Northwest Syria hosts 2.7 million displaced persons and has reported 21,000 cases of COVID-19. (UN News)


The United States will end support for offensive operations in Yemen as part of its plan to take a more active role in ending the conflict and related humanitarian crisis. The State Department is also reviewing the terrorist designation for Ansar Allah over concerns that sanctions could push the country into famine. The U.S. last week approved all transactions involving the group. (Aljazeera)