First case of Corona Virus detected on Lesvos – Refugee population at (extreme) risk

As Covid-19 makes its way around the globe, little attention has been paid the to unique risk that refugees face from the virus. The virus spreads quickly in close quarters, and since there is currently no cure, the only measures that can be taken are preventative ones. Global refugee populations are at serious risk, are often overlooked in emergency response plans, and are already at a disadvantage when it comes to access to healthcare. Refugees often do not have access to a local doctor, and might be afraid to go to a hospital for fear of deportation or other consequences.  Living in close quarters such as in a camp, is an ideal way for the virus to propagate undetected for weeks before it’s too late.

In Lesvos, aid workers have long been warning of the serious risk of pandemic at the Moria camp, due to the terrible hygiene conditions, the lack of potable water, no clean toilets, raw sewage, living in tents in the rain and cold, and poor health care available.  This makes preventative measures such as regular hand washing, almost impossible.  The perfect preconditions are here for the virus to cause maximum damage, in a place that is already at a breaking point and now the first case of coronavirus has been detected on the island.  We are working with local health organizations, to establish response plans and to provide technical support through this crisis. 

Wadi which has been supporting projects in Lesvos since 2018 has understood the potentially devastating impact of Coronavirus, responding quickly and establishing with our partner NGO ‘Stand by me Lesvos’ the “Refugee Corona Information Resource an international collaborative network providing pertinent information about corona virus, for refugees living in Greece.”

In a moment of global chaos, Refugee-CIR is dedicated to being a calm, reliable and accurate resource, providing information on corona virus awareness, symptoms, statistics, prevention, and treatment, as well as general news surrounding the topic. Information is accessible in English, Farsi, French and Arabic, and is sourced through our collaborative network linking to the refugee’s countries of origins.

The Refugee CIR is working with doctors and other industry professionals in the refugee’s countries of origins, through our network at Corona Information Service, allows Refugee-CIR to provide crucial information to refugees living in Greece in their first language.

The spread of Covid-19 in the Middle East is also of great concern to Wadi. Poor access to information, low levels of trust in government, inconsistent health care, are perfect conditions for the virus to spread quickly and undetected until it’s too late.  Local populations as well as IDP’s and refugees are at risk in Iran, Iraq and all over the Middle East and North Africa. The current situation in Iran is a small warning of the devastating effect of the virus when the people don’t trust the government and misinformation runs rampant.  The Corona Information Service Network was launched with an eye to the seriousness of the potential for pandemic.  Combating the spread of misinformation, working to reach vulnerable groups in their language, and through a medium they trust is essential in increasing awareness about the virus and preventative measures that can be taken, and of course how to proceed if you think you have been infected.

We ask for your support as we continue to work through this crisis.