As we enter a new phase of living with the dangers of COVID-19 Wadi’s approach has continued to evolve to preempt potential threats, and to react to the current situations. Our efforts have been focused on both the areas of Sulaymaniyah, Erbil, Dohuk in Northern Iraq and the Moria/Karatepe refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece.
Coronavirus in Kurdistan and Iraq:
The fourth wave of the pandemic has hit the Kurdistan region hard. Hospitals warned that if this continues, they may ‘lose control’. The region continues to have low rates of vaccination. As the situation deteriorates from Dohuk to Halabja and Ranya to Germian all Wadi teams and their partners in the field continue to intensify their efforts to inform people about the basic steps they can take to protect themselves and each other.
There is still a lot of misinformation and ‘fake news’ being shared about Coronavirus, and there is a large cultural resistance to practicing basic prevention measures such as social distancing, mask wearing and vaccination.
These efforts are part of our ‘Citizen to Citizen Corona Campaign’. This campaign promotes the message of unity and individual responsibility, where community members encourage each other to wear masks in public, encourage vaccinations and and practice social distancing.
Our teams have also focused very much on ways to help those in domestic violence situations, through the contact with the community that they have built over the years. Anyone who suffers from violation can contact them and can have someone listening to them and if needed inform the Centers of Combating Violence.
Our partners in Halabja, Nwe, opened a small sewing factory to produce masks for refugees, IDP’s and the local communiy. In Halabja refugees and IDPs are using the sewing skills they learned at NWE organisation to make masks for locals.
Unfortunately the vaccination rate in Iraq and Kurdistan is still very low. One reason for this is the lack of proper information. Still a lot of people believe in ‘fake news’ and are reluctant to get vaccinated. Therefore Wadi produced some information leaflets in co-operation with the local Departments of Health:
The campaign has worked non-stop in cities, villages and refugee camps to:
- put up posters at bus stops,
- put up posters outside supermarkets,
- worked with local shops to place social distancing stickers
- worked with schools to place social distancing stickers
- sewing masks and distributing masks
- sharing flyers and raising awareness
- encourage people to vaccinate
These activities are an extension of Wadi’s ‘No to Violence’ campaign and have used social media and local radio to amplify their message.
Together with our partners from Jinda Organization in Dohuk and our Yazidi Non-Violence team we are developing a campaign to encourage camp residents to be vaccinated. Until now there are no local campaigns for Yazidis by Yazidis.
The slogan in the photo below says: “Our grandparents survived Daesh (Islamic State) we don’t want to lose them to Corona.” A powerful message, we hope will encourage community mobilisation and solidarity.
Combating Corona in the Refugee Camps in Greece:
A considerable time before the fire the virus had entered the Moria refugee camp! The situation on the island of Lesvos, has changed dramatically, with local infection rates now in the 100s. The local hospital has run out of beds, and the situation is urgent. We continue to support our partners who are self organised refugees as they produce hundreds of masks to distribute free to other refugees in the camp.
The Moria Coronavirus Awareness Teams (MCAT) is working overtime to inform refugees in the Moria camp and surrounding camps -commonly referred to as ‘the jungle’. Wadi would like to highlight that the conditions inside Moria; crowded tents, no bathrooms, and no running water continue to make the basic corona prevention measures (hand washing & social distancing) extremely difficult to implement. Although we have been working with local partner Stand by me Lesvos since February to support refugees setting up hand washing stations inside the camp, they are not a replacement for having proper, safe, and clean living conditions. There are many elderly and vulnerable people in the camp, and the potential for human devastation of such a contagious and dangerous disease cannot be overemphasised! For more please watch this video from Human Rights Watch:
MCAT also started to operate a recycling project exchanging empty plastic bottles with food, fresh water and other goods. Every day they get 15.000 plastic bottles out of the camp while their partners the Moria White Helmets do the waste removal and fix the electricity of the camp.
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