Weekly Humanitarian News Digest – October 16

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 9 – October 16, 2020

* COVID-19 statistics, unless otherwise indicated, are from the World Health Organization and current as of October 16.

Bangladesh/ Myanmar 

Official COVID-19 Stats:
Bangladesh: 384,559 confirmed cases, 5,608 deaths.
Myanmar: 32,351 confirmed cases, 765 deaths.

ACAPS recently released a report focusing on the gendered impact of COVID-19 on Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh. The Report found that women, children, transgender persons, and those with disabilities all face additional barriers to accessing health services. Gender-based violence and child marriage is also increasing as access to support has become more restricted. (ReliefWeb)

Nearly 30,000 Rohingya children are participating in the UNHCR’s mental health program during lockdown in Cox’s Bazar. The program aims to help children learn to manage anxiety and depression by discussing their feelings in group settings with other children their age. (UNHCR)

Colombia/ Venezuela 

Official COVID-19 Stats:
Colombia:  930,159 confirmed cases, 28,306 deaths.
Venezuela: 85,005 confirmed cases, 714 deaths.

According to local health officials, intensive care units in Bogota are at 64% capacity. There are 89,925 active cases as the country continues to implement selective quarantine measures until the end of October. Land and sea borders remain closed and large public events are banned, but international flights and restaurant dining is permitted. (Reuters)

Approximately 130,000 Venezuelan migrants have returned to Venezuela due to outbreaks of COVID-19 in host countries. Many of those who return are confined in unsanitary and overcrowded quarantine centers with limited access to food, water, and medical care. In many cases, people are detained for weeks longer than the WHO recommended 14 days. (Human Rights Watch)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 150,360 confirmed cases, 12,306 deaths.

The WHO recently donated medical kits and supplies to Ecuador’s Ministry of Health to support ambulances working in the Amazon region. The donation includes masks, thermometers, and portable oxygen tanks. (World Health Organization)

Gaza/ Palestinian Territories

Official COVID-19 Stats: 57,441 confirmed cases, 471 deaths.

The World Health Organization delivered five COVID-19 examination kits to the Gaza Health Ministry. The kits will enable health workers to conduct 10,000 COVID-19 tests. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that of the 55,951 Palestinians who have contracted COVID-19 and the 455 who have died, 4,100 of the cases and 26 of the deaths were in Gaza. (Middle East Monitor)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 23,495 confirmed cases, 469 deaths.

Residents of Kara Tepe camp, built following the destruction of Moria camp, are reportedly suffering under poor conditions. Despite having an official capacity of 8,000, Kara Tepe currently hosts 9,370 of the 12,000 people displaced from Moria. The camp lacks electricity, sanitary facilities, and sufficient food delivery. Social distancing is impossible in the camp and limited testing has led to fears of a COVID-19 outbreak. The camp’s proximity to the sea has exposed residents to harsh weather and the risk of flash flooding will increase in winter. The area’s former use as a military training site also puts residents in danger of brain and kidney damage from particles of lead in the air and ground. (ACAPS)

The European Union is in the process of negotiating a Pact on Asylum and Migration to improve the distribution of asylum seekers among member states. There are concerns among humanitarian organizations that the new pact fails to solve the humanitarian crises and human rights violations occurring within the EU, specifically in Greece. Refugees International has called on the Greek government to increase funding and capacity for refugee integration and investigate allegations of abuses and illegal pushbacks. (The New Humanitarian)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 1,399 confirmed cases, 501 deaths.

The COVID-19 mortality rate among Palestinians in Lebanon is 2.4%, more than double the national rate. As of October 5, there have been 1,282 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Palestinian refugees and 31 deaths. Of the 224,901 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, an estimated 36,000 will need intensive care. (Middle East Monitor)

Lebanon’s health system is suffering from shortages of medications and supplies. Some health professionals are working in damaged facilities and others are furloughed due to the economic crisis or quarantined due to COVID-19. An increasing number of people are avoiding preventative care for financial reasons and are only seeking medical attention when their conditions worsen. (Direct Relief)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 321,218 confirmed cases, 6,614 deaths.

The government of Pakistan is instituting limited lockdowns in Karachi, Islamabad, and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as the country experiences a surge in cases. Daily infection rates have doubled compared to August with 615 new cases reported on October 14. The recent outbreak is linked to the reopening of schools and universities in September. (Asia Times)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 13,691 confirmed cases, 836 deaths.

56 people have died and more than 2,000 have suffered from high fevers and bleeding in Northern State. It is unknown whether many of the infected are suffering from COVID-19 or Chikungunya. (Radio Dabanga)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 4,931 confirmed cases, 238 deaths.

The Autonomous Administration for North and East Syria (AANES) has started allowing residents of Al-Hol camp to return to their homes. The camp hosts 70,000 people, including the families of ISIS fighters. As many as 24,000 Syrians will be released from the camp in order to relieve overcrowding that the ANNES says has made the situation unsustainable. Camp residents with close ties to ISIS will not be allowed to leave. (Voice of America)

The Syrian government is preparing for a surge in COVID-19 cases as experts raise concerns that the true extent of the COVID-19 outbreak in Syria is unknown. According to the WHO, limited testing by the government means that the actual number of COVID-19 cases in Syria is significantly higher than reported. The UN has warned that 90% of new cases cannot be traced to a known source, an indication that there is widespread community transmission. The number of infections among health workers is rising and the health system is suffering from shortages of medical staff and supplies. (BBC


Official COVID-19 Stats: 2,057 confirmed cases, 597 deaths.

Since the start of 2020, there have been nearly 200,000 suspected cases of Cholera in Yemen. The number of cases is 72% lower compared to the same period in 2019. The WHO attributes the fall in the number of new cases to efforts to improve water treatment in Yemen and the building of diarrhea treatment centers. (Middle East Monitor)

Fighting has intensified in Al Hudaydah governorate, killing 38 civilians and displacing 73 households. A health center was struck by fighting, restricting healthcare access for 32,173 households. (ReliefWeb)