South Sudan - My Body, My Right, My Future
In South Sudan, 2’021 cases of infection and 38 deaths have now been confirmed, with only a maxium of 100 tests per day carried out throughout the country. The UN envoys in Southern Sudan not only warn of Covid-19, but also of an increase in the number of malaria patients. There are fears of a sharp rise in deaths if the UN health facilities have to be closed. With 1 confirmed case, the project site Yambio has not been greatly affected to date, but this is probably due to the lack of testing capacities on site. In village talks and on radio talk shows, which are part of the programme, YWCA Yambio sensitises the population to appropriate hygiene measures to contain the spread of the virus.
Haiti - Espace Sûr - A safe place
Haiti now has 5’211 cases of infection, 88 deaths and 24 recoveries. These figures should be treated with caution, as the test rate in Haiti is very low and a high number of unreported cases can be assumed. The schools in the country are still closed. YWCA Haiti continues to support the programme participants on a regular basis with food and hygiene packages, as well as psychological advice by telephone.
In Palestine, a second wave is currently expected. In Hebron and Nablus a new lockdown has been ordered. In the whole West Bank, social gatherings were again banned, mosques and churches were closed. The population is also being urged to refrain from travelling between the West Bank and Israel.
- Rehabilitation programme
The trauma therapies with individuals are now partly carried out again in presence mode, but the group therapies are still suspended. Thanks to advocacy work with the government, the rights and needs of people with disabilities have been better integrated into the Covid-19 emergency plans (e.g. special medical needs, provision of complementary services, etc.)
- Joint Advocacy Initiative JAI
Since mid-June, training courses for Palestinian youth have been offered again. A first foreign delegation is expected in July. For the olive tree campaign, the olive growers will evaluate how they have been affected by the quarantine measures.
- Youth Participate
The Horyzon youth group organised various meetings and initiatives (virtual and physical) to demand their rights from the government and society.
Colombia - Paza al Paz
In Colombia, 71’183 cases of infection, 2’310 deaths and 28’968 convalescence are currently confirmed. All project activities will continue to be conducted virtually, using different methods and channels depending on the location. In Quindío, for example, a radio programme is held every Saturday, in which project beneficiaries, volunteers and youth leaders discuss current issues. The psychological support of the project beneficiaries via telephone or internet is still extremely important to cushion the emotional effects of Covid-19 disease and the quarantine measures. This support is mainly provided by psychologists and social workers, but there are also youth groups that support other young people.
Bangladesh - Health and Community Development Programme HCDP
In Bangladesh, 115’800 cases of infection and 1’502 deaths are currently reported. The infection rates continue to rise sharply. The government has again ordered a regional lockdown for severely affected areas. YWCA employees are again working daily in their offices as long as the region in question is not put under lockdown. At YWCA Dhaka and Savar, individual employees and beneficiaries have become infected with Covid-19. They are in quarantine and receive medical care. Individual local YWCA offices were able to carry out a few activities with the young people in strict compliance with the applicable clearance and hygiene regulations.
South Sudan – My Body, My Right, My Future
In South Sudan, 806 cases of infection have now been confirmed, 6 of them have already recovered and 8 deaths have been recorded. The Vice President of South Sudan and his wife, as well as other members of the Corona Task Force, have been infected with Covid-19 and have gone into self-isolation. YWCA Yambio participated in a nationwide radio talk show to present the new project and took the opportunity to also talk about corona prevention measures.
Haiti - Espace Sûr - A safe place
Haiti reports 985 cases of infection and has a rapidly increasing infection rate. The peak of the infection rate is expected in June/July. The government has announced that it will tighten protection measures and extend the lockdown to public transport, banks and other services that were still temporarily open. YWCA Haiti continues to support program participants and their families online and over the phone. They also carried out the second major distribution of food and hygiene products and provided the program participants with food for the next 15 days.
In Palestine, a gradual easing of quarantine measures is currently taking place to revive the economy. However, the state of emergency remains in place until 6 June 2020.
In the last 2 months, the rehabilitation programme has carried out numerous support measures and reached a large number of programme participants:
- Free psychosocial care by telephone for 391 people
- Distribution of food packages, hygiene articles, medicines and other goods for 164 vulnerable families.
- Conducting a needs analysis of 329 persons with mental disabilities and 547 persons with physical disabilities
- 1'338 online psychotherapy hours for a total of 639 people
- 96 group therapies for 193 persons
- 109 family therapies for 49 persons
- Tutoring for 11 students
The vocational training centers remain closed.
Joint Advocacy Initiative
Palestine's two main economic sectors, agriculture and tourism, were hit particularly hard during the Corona crisis. In addition, Israel's annexation plans are already showing their first effects in the West Bank: more roads are being built and there is an increase in expropriation and attacks by settlers. Last week about 200 olive trees were uprooted. Two Norwegian delegations have cancelled their sensitisation visits for this year. However, a Korean group has registered for a visit in July. In the coming weeks, the olive growers will get an overview of the olive tree campaign, visit the planting sites and take new pictures for the donor database.
Colombia – Paza al Paz
Currently, 23,000 infected persons and 776 deaths are reported. The peak of the infections is expected in June. The national quarantine has been extended until 31 May 2020 and international flights are suspended until September. Poverty rates are rising rapidly across the country. The local YMCA organizations are currently developing an online system for monitoring ongoing corona activities. The annual technical meeting between YMCA Colombia and Horyzon has been cancelled. Instead, various online meetings will be held.
Bangladesh – Health and community development programme HCDP
In Bangladesh, 33'000 cases of infection are currently reported. The infection rates are rising rapidly. The government has meanwhile eased the lockdown measures for the Eid Festival, which could have a strong impact on the infection rate. The first infections from the Rohingya refugee camp in Cox Bazaar have been reported. At the same time, a cyclone with heavy rain and flooding caused severe damage in the south of the country. YWCA Bangladesh carried out distributions of food and hygiene products at all local sites and was able to reach 15'500 vulnerble people.
Horyzon news articles about the distributions.
South Sudan - My Body, My Right, My Future
South Sudan currently has 156 cases of infection. There is increasing xenophobia in the country, as those originally infected were all UN staff. At the same time, the low price of oil is causing problems in the peace process, as the financing of the unified army is not guaranteed. The arms embargo expires at the end of the month and there are first indications that arms supplies from China are coming into the country again. YWCA South Sudan was able to successfully carry out the first project activities, such as the Radio Talk Show and the neighbourhood talks.
Haiti: Espace Sûr - education for young women and girls in the slums
Haiti has 209 infection cases and 16 deaths. The nationwide lock down has been extended until 15th of May. From May 11th on, a general mask obligation in public places will apply. Schools remain closed. Many students were not able to finish the school year and there is uncertainty about their graduation and the continuing curriculum.
YWCA Haiti continues to conduct awareness raising activities online and by phone. The staff are in regular contact with the programme participants and their families and they provide psychological support. They have distributed additional food and hygiene packages to the beneficiaries.
Bangladesh - Health and Community Development Programme
Bangladesh reports a total of 16’660 infection cases and 250 deaths. The number of infections is increasing. Distance learning is carried out in schools wherever possible and the students have been given a corresponding curriculum.
The project staff of YWCA Bangladesh work in the office again a few days a week and the rest of the time in the home office. YWCA Bangladesh has distributed food packages to the programme participants and stays in regular contact with them.
Colombia - Paza la Paz
In Colombia there are currently 11’613 infected persons and 479 deaths reported.
In Bogotá there are protests against the government's inadequate management of the crisis. Especially in the poor quarters, people are suffering from hunger, as many jobs in the informal sector were lost due to the quarantine.
YMCA organises food distributions at almost all locations in Paza la Paz. Often the money for this comes from donations of the local population.
Palestine - Reintegration of disabled and traumatized young people
In the West Bank, the state of emergency was extended until 5 June. However, smaller shops were allowed to open again and there is now more freedom of movement.
YMCA Palestine distributed food and hygiene items to 200 particularly vulnerable people. They have also distributed medicines and medical supplies to 300 people with physical and intellectual disabilities. Psychological consultations are offered via telephone and internet. For 10 students, special classes are being held to help them pass the final exams. The reintegration programme is present during the crisis at both community and government level and coordinates support activities with all relevant actors.
Palestine - Youth Participate
Despite the Corona crisis, 3 youth initiatives were carried out in May. One of them online with young people from the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and refugee camps abroad. In this initiative the topics youth participation and identity were discussed. Two other initiatives were carried out in Jenin and Jericho, where the main focus was on supporting families in need.
The Colombian Government has extended quarantine measures until 11 May. Currently, 6,207 people infected by the virus and 278 deaths are reported in Colombia.
On April 29th, YMCA Colombia published a second newsletter in which the current corona crisis is being dealt with and how especially vulnerable people are being supported.
A total of 5,427 food parcels for a total of 18,790 people were distributed in 8 departments of the country. During the distributions, strict hygiene measures were followed.
At the Qundío and Risaralda locations, telephone calls were made to provide psychosocial support for particularly affected families. In Tolima, online courses on mental health are offered continuously. A total of 1,385 people were reached through these activities. In Cali, 6 bilingual youth leaders conducted the worldwide campaign #StayAtHome, in which they shared hopeful messages and self-care tips for quarantine via the social networks.
During the last month, 255 virtual activities were carried out, reaching 22,496 people. These activities include online dance classes, French and English courses, photography workshops, etc.
Paza la Paz
Since all presence activities of the Paza la Paz project had to be suspended due to the corona outbreak, certain courses were held online and via WhatsApp instead. The courses covered topics such as maintaining a culture of peace during the pandemic and elaborating mechanisms and scenarios for youth participation. A total of 27 virtual courses were held, in which over 300 young people participated.
Colombia's President Ivan Duque has extended the quarantine measures due to the corona virus until 26 April 2020. Currently, 3'792 infected persons and 179 deaths are reported.
Paza la Paz
At various locations of the Paza la Paz project, the YMCA has collected money through appeals for donations, which is distributed in the form of food to particularly needy families. In addition, virtual educational activities and employment ideas continue to be shared with the young people of the project.
In view of the declining number of cases of corona infections, the Palestinian government is currently discussing the possibility of relaxing quarantine measures to allow the economy to restart. The Palestinian Ministry of Health currently records 418 infections and 3 deaths.
YWCA Palestine carried out a needs assessment within the most vulnerable groups and is planning initial emergency measures to support these people. The main support will be the distribution of food coupons, hygiene products, medicines, baby paraphernalia, telephone credits and electricity coupons.
Joint Advocacy Initiative
Several visits by international delegations had to be postponed or cancelled due to the corona eruption. The human rights training for Palestinian youth also had to be postponed. During the quarantine, the project team is now concentrating on administrative and organisational tasks that arise anyway during this time of the year and can be done from home.
The therapists of the project continue to carry out trauma therapy via telephone and the Internet. The project is also conducting an awareness campaign on the special needs of people with disabilities during the Corona crisis, as this population group is particularly affected by the crisis and their needs are often not taken into account in society.
Haiti's government already imposed a national curfew and a ban on assembly a few weeks ago. The government is conducting nationwide prevention and information campaigns on the corona virus and has set up test stations in individual quarters. So far there are 40 confirmed cases and 3 deaths. However, the number of unreported cases is said to be much higher. All schools and public institutions remain closed.
The staff of YWCA Haiti is in telephone contact with the program participants. According to a survey, they are currently the most in need of hygiene products, food and psychological support. YWCA Haiti now offers them psychological support on the phone and provides them with donated food packages and hygiene products. They also continue to provide information on prevention and protection measures.
According to the employees, the risk of domestic violence rises sharply with the lockdown. Therefore, they offer targeted support and have provided the programme participants and their families with a contact list for further support in cases of domestic violence, illness and psychological problems.
They also conducted a virtual first aid course for the mentors of the program. They can now help directly in the living quarters. YWCA Haiti is also present on various national radio shows and informs the general population about the virus and the issue of domestic violence during the crisis
According to official figures, there are 2,456 confirmed cases and 91 deaths in Bangladesh. The curfew has been extended until 25 April 2020. The military has provided food aid on behalf of the government at individual locations.
Staff members maintain contact with programme participants by telephone and online. They are conducting a needs assessment to determine what they currently lack most and how best to help. They are also continuing to provide information online about protective measures and why it is important to stay at home now. They have published two awareness-raising videos on the corona virus, one of which was produced directly by the young people from the Horyzon Health and Neighbourhood Development Programme and distributed on the YWCA network.
In the meantime, South Sudan has also recorded its first officially confirmed case of Covid19. An UN employee from the Netherlands fell ill with the virus after she had entered the country from Ethiopia. Meanwhile, the government is trying to prevent further spread of the virus by imposing entry and exit bans and closing schools and churches. This is urgently necessary, to prevent the health system not to collapse. There are only 4 (!) respirators in the whole country. At the Horyzon project site in Yambio, our partner organisation has now taken various preventive measures and equipped all project participants with masks and gloves.
Colombia and Palestine have already been in a state of emergency for several weeks due to the corona crisis and are therefore in complete isolation. Now, first reports from human rights activists show a worrying picture regarding the impact of the corona crisis on the human rights situation in both countries.
In Colombia, the quarantine measures cause an increased risk for human rights activists, as they now have to stay at home and thus increasingly become an easy target for armed groups.
While in Palestine a major outbreak of COVID-19 has been largely prevented thanks to the strict measures taken by the authorities, in Israeli prisons, where around 5,000 Palestinians are currently imprisoned, a health crisis is looming as no protective measures have been taken. In the Gaza Strip, the instable health care system threatens to collapse if the virus breaks out. Unfortunately, hopes for increased cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian authorities are fading. On 26 March 2020, for example, a Palestinian field hospital was confiscated by the Israeli civil administration.
All information on the current situation in the two regions can be found in the separate news article.
Meanwhile, the YWCA Haiti center had to be closed down completely. Last weekend the government imposed a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people and a night-time curfew. YWCA Haiti staff provided food parcels and hygiene boxes to the programme participants on the last day before closing. They will stay in contact with them by telephone and offer them psychological support by phone. It is also planned to continue providing food and hygiene boxes for the girls and young women. YWCA Haiti can count on the support of students*.
Most of the activities in the health and community development programme of YWCA Bangladesh are cancelled. The government has imposed a national curfew until 4 April 2020. Under military control, people are asked to stay at home. During this time YWCA Bangladesh continues its prevention campaign online and staff are available by phone.
Kolumbien - Paza la Paz:
YMCA Colombia is conducting a corona prevention campaign via social networks. For example, information is shared on how to distinguish a corona infection from a flu and a cold, and the population is encouraged to stay at home if possible. The project teams of Paza la Paz also carry out creative actions on social media, such as the #StayAtHome Challenge or the virtual YMCA Camp. At the same time, the teams are in contact with the young people of the project and adapt the training materials of the project so that they can be communicated digitally.
Palestine - Youth Participate:
YWCA Palestine has started to adapt some activities and youth initiatives to the needs of the most vulnerable groups. Together with partner organisations, school administrations and voluntary youth groups, project staff and young people are trying to support families in quarantine and raise awareness of prevention and protection measures. They also help poor families who have lost their jobs and have to stay at home due to mobility restrictions.
YWCA Haiti has to close the Leadership Academy for the young women of the program with immediate effect. The program is based on the support of volunteer mentors who supported YWCA Hait on behalf of the local partner organisation HELP. However, HELP decided yesterday to stop all program activities. Although there are still no officially confirmed cases of Corona Virus in Haiti, the credibility of the government for transparent communication as well as for the available government resources in dealing with this pandemic must be strongly questioned.
Sandrine Kenol Wiener, our local programme coordinator, says: "One thing is certain, our public health system is not prepared to face the complications associated with the spread of the virus, as we already lack everything in our hospitals. We should therefore plan ahead and take responsibility for preventing the spread of the virus while we still can. We will discuss this week with the board of directors and decide whether all the activities of the youth centre should be discontinued."
The state has declared a state of emergency and by 20 April all kindergartens, schools, restaurants, cinemas, etc. will be closed. In addition, the airports will be closed to tourism.
Assemblies of more than 50 people have been banned and the population has been ordered to stay at home and work from home if possible.
YMCA Colombia has therefore taken the measure that all youth groups and activities of the Paza la Paz project are suspended until further notice.
The local project team is constantly monitoring the situation.
The staff members work from home and are in contact with the young people of the project via the social networks.
With the rapid, worldwide spread of the corona virus, the first effects on Horyzon's became real since the week of 9 March 2020. The Horyzon team works in home office whenever possible, to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. So far working at home has proven to be just as effective.
The implementation of the Horyzon programme in Bangladesh, Colombia, South Sudan and Haiti is not yet restricted due to the Corona virus. However, there are already confirmed cases of infection in Colombia and Bangladesh. Our partner organisations YWCA Bangladesh and YWCA Haiti are already conducting information and prevention campaigns for programme participants and employees.
In Palestine, the situation has been worrying since 6 March 2020. A group of tourists infected several people in Bethlehem, whereupon the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas declared a 30-day state of emergency. Bethlehem has been completely sealed off, and throughout the country most public institutions such as schools, universities, churches and mosques are closed until further notice.
The Joint Advocacy Initiative, which is implemented by Horyzon in cooperation with YMCA East Jerusalem and YWCA Palestine, is affected by the temporary isolation of Bethlehem, as the project office is located in the affected area. The project team works from home, but the visit of a foreign group in March and the Journey for Justice Event in April had to be cancelled.
The rehabilation programme, which is being implemented by YMCA East Jerusalem, has also been severely affected. The vocational training center in Jericho and the guesthouse in Beit Sahour were closed for 30 days. The mobile trauma therapy teams are working at reduced capacity and have had to limit home visits to their patients. In Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the activities of the therapy teams had to be stopped completely until further notice. The office staff of the reintegration program are working from home, with mothers of children under 12 years of age being released from work to care for their children who cannot go to school or kindergarten.
The Youth Participate Project of Horyzon and YWCA Palestine had to suspend the activities of the youth groups until further notice due to the virus. The project team also works from home, with the same exception for mothers of school-age children.
Horyzon is in close contact with all partners on site and receives regular updates on the situation on site and the status of the project activities. The local staff do their best to continue the projects as well as possible despite the difficult situation. Nader Abu-Amsha, director of the rehabilitation programme, says: "We are used to various emergencies, but this is something new, we learn new things every day and try to find a balance between caution and effectiveness".
Despite all the tragedy that the corona virus brings with it, a significant positive side effect can be observed in Israel and Palestine: The rhetoric of annexing large areas of the West Bank that prevailed just a few days ago gave way to the need for the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to cooperate in combating the pandemic. It is to be hoped that the positive effects of this cross-border cooperation will continue in the future.