Partners scale up aid and COVID-19 preparedness to over a million people in displacement sites
There are currently more than a million displaced people scattered in 1,600 makeshift sites (IDP sites) across Yemen. Internally displaced persons are among the most vulnerable and depend on humanitarian aid for survival. Living conditions in IDP sites are sub-standard as the population lacks access to basic services. Some IDPs are from marginalized groups, which can affect access to aid and opportunities.
To address these challenges and improve living conditions in IDP sites, the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster was established in 2019. A CCCM Cluster report in January 2020 found that in 54 per cent of the 1,600 site locations, infectious diseases were among the most serious threat to the inhabitants, while 38 per cent reported water contamination and 32 per cent reported that evictions were the most serious threat. At the time there were pregnant and nursing women in 91 per cent of sites, elderly people in 83 per cent of sites, female-headed households and disabled people in 80 per cent of sites, and people with chronic diseases in 78 per cent of sites. The survey also found that in 39 per cent of sites, priority needs included food, health care, livelihood opportunities, site maintenance and access to clean water. The report findings have informed a coordinated and scaled up response across IDP sites with limited resources and ongoing access challenges due to the conflict.
With the lack of essential services at IDP sites, which accommodate large numbers of vulnerable people, communicable diseases pose a recurring threat. Should there be an outbreak of COVID-19 in any sites and this is not contained, then there would be a serious risk that it would spread fast and affect surrounding areas. In recent weeks, the CCCM Cluster has stepped up efforts to prepare for and be ready to suppress the spread of COVID-19 in IDP locations. This involved an integrated approach with the Health and WASH clusters in identifying areas at high risk, which are mainly those that host high numbers of elderly people and people with chronic conditions, and sites that lack access to clean water and health care services. The priority is to reduce the spread of the virus through scaling up awareness-raising activities, promoting preventive measures, shielding non-infected high-risk populations, and implementing isolation measures for suspected and confirmed cases at the sites. Distribution of hygiene kits, improving basic infrastructure, establishing community-based isolation options and setting up additional hand-washing stations for the most vulnerable are ongoing. Efforts to prepare for COVID-19 in IDP sites are hampered by a lack of funding.