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: Aerial view of the former Moria migrant camp on Lesbos, Info Migrants/EPA/Dimitris Tosidis.
Latest News for March 5 – March 12, 2021
Authorities in Cox’s Bazar have imposed a two-week lockdown on the more than one million Rohingya refugees living in overcrowded camps. Bangladesh is working to improve testing capacity for the area and plans to build an intensive care unit by June 21 to treat severe cases. Social distancing is extremely difficult in the camps as families of up to eight people are forced to live in tents with only 120 square feet. (Arab News)
Colombia is attempting to accelerate its vaccination program after only vaccinating 42,000 people in a 24 hour period. In order to reach Colombia’s goal of vaccinating 37 million people by the end of the year, more than 236,000 people per day need to receive vaccines. By the end of March, the government plans to complete vaccinations for frontline health workers and people over the age of 80. (Colombia Reports)
Gaza/ Palestinian Territories
On Thursday, Gaza received 40,000 COVID-19 vaccines from the UAE, half of which will go to the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority plans to cover 20% of the population with vaccines through the COVAX program, but shipments expected for March have been delayed until May. According to the Palestinian Ambassador to China, 50,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine should arrive in the West Bank in the next couple of days. (Reuters)
Greece has canceled plans to rebuild Moria camp, which once hosted 12,500 refugees and migrants before burning down in September 2020. A new camp on Lesbos will be built to replace the temporary facilities at Kara Tepe that currently hold 7,000 former residents of Moria camp. Both Moria and Kara Tepe have been criticized for failing to provide sufficient healthcare, food, water, shelter, and hygiene facilities to meet the needs of residents. (InfoMigrants)
Lebanon’s currency has continued to drop in value, causing a spike in prices, fuel shortages, and extended power cuts. Half of the population has fallen into poverty and the caretaker prime minister, Hassan Diab, has threatened to resign unless a new government is formed. Many Lebanese blame government corruption for the economic crisis and strongly distrust the government, especially after members of parliament received COVID-19 vaccines in violation of Lebanon’s vaccination guidelines. (Associated Press)
Pakistan has started COVID-19 vaccinations for people over the age of 60. More than 300,000 people have signed up for vaccinations, but many people, including health workers, have expressed distrust or indifference towards vaccines. The government has launched a media campaign to counter misinformation and encourage people to participate in the vaccination campaign. Pakistan will receive another 14.6 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine later this month. (Aljazeera)
Sudan’s Ministry of Health has launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Khartoum. Patients, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases will receive the first vaccinations. Sudan received its first delivery of 828,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine through the COVAX initiative last week. By the end of 2021, Sudan expects to have enough doses to vaccinate 8.5 million people, less than a quarter of its population. (Radio Dabanga)
According to UNICEF, 90% of Syrian children are in need of humanitarian assistance, a 20% increase from last year. Around 6.7 million Syrians are internally displaced and more than half the population is food insecure. Millions of children are displaced in northern Syria after their families were forced to flee violence, often experiencing multiple displacements. (Voice of America)
Intense fighting continues to escalate in Marib governorate, threatening the safety of hundreds of thousands of displaced Yemenis living in desert camps. The United States has called for an end to the fighting and has pledged $191 million for humanitarian aid. The UN had hoped to raise $3.85 billion for relief efforts, but has only raised $1.7 billion so far. (Voice of America)
On March 7, a deadly fire broke out at a migrant detention center in Sana’a, injuring at least 170 migrants and killing an unknown number of people. Nearly 900 people, mostly Ehtiopian migrants, were being held in the overcrowded facility. The International Organization for Migration has called for the release of all migrants and commitment to providing safe and predictable movement options for migrants. (UN News)