Weekly Humanitarian News Digest – November 6

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.

Latest News for October 30 – November 6, 2020

* COVID-19 statistics, unless otherwise indicated, are from the World Health Organization and current as of November 6.

Bangladesh/ Myanmar 

Official COVID-19 Stats:
Bangladesh: 416,006 confirmed cases, 6,021 deaths.
Myanmar: 57,935 confirmed cases, 1,352 deaths.

The government of Bangladesh is seeking to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees from Cox’s Bazar to Bhasan Char, a silt island 37 miles off the coast of Bangladesh. The government cites rising rates of violence and human trafficking in Cox’s Bazar’s overcrowded camps as justification for the move. Conditions on Bhasan Char, which sits only six feet above sea level, have been described as prisonlike by the 306 rohingya who were relocated there against their will and are unable to leave. (BBC)

Colombia/ Venezuela 

Official COVID-19 Stats:
Colombia:  1,108,084 confirmed cases, 32,013 deaths.
Venezuela: 93,480 confirmed cases, 814 deaths.

An estimated 300 Venezuelans enter Colombia each day despite the closure of land borders. The majority of Venezuelan migrants in Colombia are undocumented and informally employed. When COVID-19 lockdowns began, 100,000 Venezuelans returned to Venezuela in hopes of accessing government assistance, but most of them are expected to re-enter Colombia. When the borders eventually open, as many as 200,000 Venezuelans are predicted to enter Colombia within three to five months, bringing the total number of Venezuelans in Colombia to two million. (Reuters)

Many Venezuelans with COVID-19 or other health conditions are choosing to remain in their homes due to Venezuela’s broken health system. 30% of Venezuela’s doctors have left the country according to the Federation of Venezuelan Doctors. United Doctors of Venezuela, a non-governmental group, reports that at least 231 health care workers have died from COVID-19. In some hospitals, families of patients are forced to fill the void by feeding and caring for their relatives. (AP News)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 171,783 confirmed cases, 12,730 deaths.

3.1 million children in Ecuador will fall into multidimensional poverty by the end of 2020 due to the effects of COVID-19 according to a recent study by UNICEF. Approximately 715,000 households are estimated to suffer from one or more deprivations in education, food, housing, health, work, and health care. (ReliefWeb)

Gaza/ Palestinian Territories

Official COVID-19 Stats: 68,500 confirmed cases, 580 deaths.

The Response Plan for the occupied Palestinian territories is only 49% funded. Between October 20 and November 2, 7,500 new cases of COVID-19 were reported and 81 people died. In Gaza, the number of people in ICU beds doubled within a week, but the WHO believes that the health system can manage the current caseload. (ReliefWeb)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 46,892 confirmed cases, 673 deaths.

A small fire broke out in a camp on Samos Island, destroying 15 tents. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is unknown. The camp on Samos is the most overcrowded in Greece with more than 4,200 people kept in facilities built to hold less than 650. (ABC News)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 89,186 confirmed cases, 683 deaths.

A Syrian man living as a refugee in Lebanon set himself on fire outside of the UN office in Bir Hassan after being unable to afford medical treatment for his sick daughter. Only one million of the 1.5 to two million Syrian refugees in Lebanon are registered with the UN, leaving  hundreds of thousands with barriers to accessing healthcare. (Middle East Monitor)

Lebanon’s Interior Ministry has ordered lockdowns in 115 towns and villages after a surge in COVID-19 cases. On Sunday, 1,600 new cases were recorded across Lebanon. Social gatherings are banned and many educational institutions will close. There are also concerns that the health sector will be further burdened by the flu season. (The Daily Star)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 338,875 confirmed cases, 6,893 deaths.

The disruption of polio vaccinations due to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns has caused a spike in polio cases. As many as 40 million children in Pakistan were not vaccinated due to the suspension of the vaccination program on March 26. Though the campaign was resumed in July, the disruption and ongoing restrictions hinder vaccination efforts. Eighty cases of wild poliovirus and 64 cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus have been reported in 2020. (Medical Xpress)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 13,943 confirmed cases, 837 deaths.

Regions of Sudan are experiencing blackouts from power cuts by electrical companies due to unpaid bills. The loss of electricity to the capitals of North Darfur and Red Sea state have exacerbated health, economic, and security conditions. Hospital generators are unable to sustain operations due to fuel shortages and access to water is also threatened. (Radio Dabanga)

One-fourth of Sudan’s population is facing food shortages due to a combination of flooding, rising food prices, COVID-19, and economic collapse. Millions of Sudanese also face challenges in accessing water, medical care, and basic commodities. (Radio Dabanga)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 6,040 confirmed cases, 305 deaths.

According to health officials in Northwest Syria, there have been at least 5,075 cases of COVID-19 and 42 deaths. More than 860 cases are among health workers, leading to fears among the general population that doctors and nurses are spreading the virus and that hospitals are unsafe. Nearly 1.5 million people live in overcrowded camps where 330 cases have been recorded and few people wear masks. (Aljazeera)

The recent escalation of conflict in Northwest Syria has created fears of new waves of mass displacement. So far this year, attacks on civilian homes and infrastructure across Idlib has displaced an estimated one million people. At the same time, heavy rains this week have caused flooding in nine IDP camps. IDPs are also dealing with the threat of COVID-19 as winter approaches. (Save The Children)

Two humanitarian workers were killed in Northwest Syria while traveling to work with children affected by the conflict. Northwest Syria is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world for children. Between January and March 2020, 236 children were injured and 273 were killed by violence. (UNICEF)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 2,067 confirmed cases, 602 deaths.

2,212 households were displaced in Yemen during the month of October, bringing the total number of displaced households this year to 26,376. The majority of the October displacements were people fleeing conflict in the northern governorates of Marib and Al Jawf. COVID-19 restrictions on movement and reinforced anti-migrant policies have led to the forced transfer of thousands of migrants across governorate borders and the detainment of thousands more. (ReliefWeb)

Parts of Yemen are experiencing the highest rates of acute malnutrition among children under five in the country’s history. Six years of conflict and COVID-19 have devastated Yemen’s economy and caused food prices to increase 30% as supplies dwindled. Acute malnutrition has risen 10% in southern Yemen and severe acute malnutrition has increased 16% in 2020. (The Telegraph)