Weekly Humanitarian News Digest – November 13

Each week, we highlight the latest news related to the humanitarian and health crises in our countries of operation: Bangladesh/ Myanmar, Colombia/ Venezuela, Ecuador, Gaza/ Palestinan Territories, Greece, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. We also highlight the latest official COVID-19 figures in each of these countries. For more frequent updates, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Cover image by UNRWA/Yazan Fares.

Latest News for November 6 – November 13, 2020

* COVID-19 statistics, unless otherwise indicated, are from the World Health Organization and current as of November 13.

Bangladesh/ Myanmar 

Official COVID-19 Stats:
Bangladesh: 427,198 confirmed cases, 6,140 deaths.
Myanmar: 64,453 confirmed cases, 1,480 deaths.

Daily COVID-19 infections in Bangladesh have risen in recent weeks as the government prepares for a surge in cases during the winter. Authorities have extended the closure of educational facilities until December 19, but many other restrictions have been lifted. According to Nazrul Islam, a member of the national technical advisory committe for COVID-19, many people are refusing to follow follow health guidlines for wearing masks and social distancing. (Reuters)

Colombia/ Venezuela 

Official COVID-19 Stats:
Colombia:  1,165,326 confirmed cases, 33,312 deaths.
Venezuela: 95,750 confirmed cases, 838 deaths.

New waves of Venezuelan migrants are making their way to Colombia as lockdowns end and the economy reopens. Many Venezuelans returned to Venezuela this year when COVID-19 restrictions eliminated opportunities to work. The journey has become more dangerous due to border closures and migrants have a fraction of the resources and support they had in previous years. (World Politics Review)

Gaza/ Palestinian Territories

Official COVID-19 Stats: 72,967 confirmed cases, 617 deaths.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health is requesting COVID-19 testing kits from the World Health Organization as cases continue to rise. Al-Aqsa Hospital, the main health facility serving central Gaza, is facing severe shortages of medical equipment and oxygen. The hospital’s intensive care unit is struggling to operate as the health situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate. (Middle East Monitor)

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNWRA), which serves 5.7 million Palestinian refugees, has run out of funding. The organization will be unable to pay the full salaries of 28,000 employees involved in humanitarian efforts. Almost 17,000 Palestinian refugees have contracted COVID-19 since the begining of the pandemic. (UN News)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 63,321 confirmed cases, 909 deaths.

The Greek government has ordered a national lockdown following a surge in new COVID-19 cases. Over 10,000 new cases were recorded in a single week, representing 20% of all cases in Greece since the pandemic began. The three-week lockdown is intended to ease the strain on the health system that has slowly recovered from the decade-long financial crisis. (Voice of America)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 100,703 confirmed cases, 775 deaths.

Up to 60% of brand name drugs have become unavailable in Lebanon as the country faces a severe shortage of medications. Lebanon imports 85% of medications and is currently dealing with a historic financial crisis. The majority of Lebanon’s population has fallen below the poverty line and many are unable to access life-sustaining medications for chronic conditions. (AP News)

Lebanon will institute a two-week lockdown on Saturday in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. In October, 42,000 new cases were recorded and 277 people died. Hospitals in Lebanon are struggling to manage the health crisis and some are unable to admit patients in critical condition. The restrictions, which will continue until November 29, are expected to further harm Lebanon’s collapsing economy. (BBC News)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 349,992 confirmed cases, 7,055 deaths.

Tens of thousands of people living in Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city, are at risk of respiratory disease due to pollution. Air quality levels are expected to continue deteriorating in the winter, putting additional strain on Pakistan’s health system as it grapples with COVID-19. (AP News)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 14,401 confirmed cases, 1,116 deaths.

Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission expects 20,000 Ethiopian refugees to enter the country after fleeing violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Local authorities along the border are preparing for the influx of refugees and are calling for federal and international assistance. (Radio Dabanga)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 6,486 confirmed cases, 333 deaths.

There are at least 7,059 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Northwest Syria as of November 4. 524 new cases were recorded on November 3, the highest number of cases in a single day. The Northwest, with a population of four million, has only nine hospitals dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients and lacks the capacity to process more than 1,000 tests per day. Local authorities instituted a week-long lockdown on November 6 to slow the spread of the virus. (Doctors Without Borders).


Official COVID-19 Stats: 2,072 confirmed cases, 603 deaths.

The World Food Programme (WFP) warns that Yemen will experience devastating famine within the next few months unless funding needs are immediately met. The WFP has received only $1.5 of the $3 billion required to run its humanitarian operations in Yemen. (Aljazeera)