Weekly Humanitarian News Digest – October 23

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 16 – October 23, 2020

* COVID-19 statistics, unless otherwise indicated, are from the World Health Organization and current as of October 23.

Bangladesh/ Myanmar 

Official COVID-19 Stats:
Bangladesh: 394,827 confirmed cases, 5,747 deaths.
Myanmar: 41,008 confirmed cases, 1,005 deaths.

International donors have pledged $597 billion to support the humanitarian response for Rohingya Refugees living in Bangladesh. The additional funding meets the $1 billion target set for 2020. Nearly a million Rohingya live in crowded camps in Bangladesh after fleeing violence by the Myanmar military in 2017. Attempts at repatriation have repeatedly failed as refugees refuse to return without guarantees of basic rights. (Reuters)

A group of 35 civil society groups have called on the United States and other countries to recognize the violence committed against the Rohingya as acts of genocide. The government of Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens, despite them living in Myanmar for generations. In 2017, the military carried out a violent campaign against the Rohingya under the guise of counterinsurgency. UN officials have found evidence of ethinic cleansing and have warned about ongoing acts of genocide against the Rohingya remaining in Myanmar. There is currently an ongoing genocide investigation being carried out in the the International Court of Justice. (Aljazeera)

Colombia/ Venezuela 

Official COVID-19 Stats:
Colombia:  981,700 confirmed cases, 29,464 deaths.
Venezuela: 87,644 confirmed cases, 747 deaths.

Colombia’s migration agency has reported that over the past month, Venezuelan migrants have resumed crossing into Colombia through informal crossing points. Colombia’s borders are currently closed until at least November 1. The number of Venezuelan migrants in Colombia was 1.73 million at the end of July and is expected to increase to 2 million within three to five months from when the border reopens. (Reuters)

Gaza/ Palestinian Territories

Official COVID-19 Stats: 60,670 confirmed cases, 506 deaths.

According to UN OCHA, there are 1,893 active cases of COVID-19 in Gaza. Between October 5—19, 1,400 new cases of community transmission were reported and five people died, bringing the death toll up to 28 in Gaza. The COVID-19 response plan for the occupied Palestinian territories is only 49% funded. (ReliefWeb)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 27,334 confirmed cases, 534 deaths.

Oxfam and the Greek Council of Refugees have condemned living conditions at the new refugee camp at Kara Tepe. The camp’s 8,000 residents are living close to the sea in tents that do not provide adequate protection from the weather and are not suited for winter. The camp does not have a drainage and sewer system and there is scant access to running water. Health care services are limited and there is no access to legal aid for asylum seekers. (Aljazeera)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 67,027 confirmed cases, 552 deaths.

The International Monetary Fund forecasts that the Lebanese economy will shrink 25% this year. The economies of the MENA region are expected to contract 5% overall due to the effects of COVID-19, but the pre-existing economic crisis in Lebanon has made it highly susceptible to the economic shock of the pandemic. (Al Jazeera)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 325,473 confirmed cases, 6,702 deaths.

Up to 1.4 million children in Pakistan are at risk of homelessness following historic flooding. Long-term disruptions to child education is expected due to dozens of schools being damaged or destroyed by flooding. There are also concerns about the spread of diseases like COVID-19, malaria, and dengue among the displaced. The destruction of crops have also led to fears of food shortages, especially in rural areas. (Save the Children)

Pakistan’s COVID-19 mortality rate has increased 140% compared to previous weeks. The National Command and Operations Center, the body in charge of managing Pakistan’s COVID-19 response, has warned that stricter measures, including lockdowns, will be put in place if people fail to follow health guidelines. (The Hindu)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 13,724 confirmed cases, 836 deaths.

The Darfur Displaced and Refugees General Coordination has requested help from international humanitarian aid organizations in supporting the thousands of people displaced by historic flooding in recent months. Displaced persons living in camps suffer from shortages of food, water, and shelter and there are now high incidence rates of malaria and diarrhea. (Radio Dabanga)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 5,267 confirmed cases, 260 deaths.

COVID-19 Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) Survey: Northwest Syria – September 2020. The goal of this survey is to understand the gaps that exist in the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the Syrian population with regards to COVID-19 and to provide partners with information to find ways to fill the gaps. This factsheet presents descriptive statistics from the survey data collected from 1,939 respondents, conducted by REACH in Idlib and Aleppo governorates in Northwest Syria. Descriptive statistics include each specific KAP indicator, disaggregated by governorate, sex, and rural/urban population. (ReliefWeb)


Official COVID-19 Stats: 2,061 confirmed cases, 599 deaths.

In order to expand health care access for Yemeni children, UNICEF and the European Union are supporting The Community Health Worker Project. The project trains female health workers from targeted areas in child care and reproductive health. The community health workers play a lifesaving role in areas that lack access to health facilities and provide vital immunization and nutrition services for children. (Forbes)