COVID-19: Slowing the spread of infection in Iraq
LWF is distributing hygiene kits and information to households in camps for internally displaced people
(LWI) - In a country already struggling with one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is providing hygiene kits and other vital services to vulnerable communities in northern Iraq to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease.
The Iraqi government reported its first cases of the disease in February, with the first deaths reported at the beginning of March and fatalities now numbering almost 100. The country was seen as especially vulnerable to the pandemic due to the damage inflicted on its economy, infrastructure and healthcare institutions during three decades of war, sanctions and sectarian conflict. It also shares a border with Iran, the worst-hit country in the Middle East with over 93.000 cases and over 6.000 deaths.
LWF staff deliver hygiene kits and cleaning products to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Dawodiya camp
LWF World Service has been working in northern Iraq since 2014, supporting mainly internally displaced people (IDPs) who fled their homes following the capture of Mosul by the Islamic State group. Since the outbreak of the disease, staff have suspended regular activities in community centers and have focused on the distribution of hygiene kits containing face masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and prevention information.
Kits have been distributed door-to-door to households in Dawodiya IDP camp, thereby avoiding the risks of people gathering and transmitting the virus. Since tight restrictions on movement have been introduced and most shops and markets are closed, residents of the camp say the LWF kits have been a vital way of accessing basic prevention items.
Having proper hygiene habits through these means will minimize our risk in spreading the virus and will also enhance our overall health and safety.
Ms. Wasila Yazdin, a thirty-two year old widow with six children and no income to pay for such items, told staff: “LWF’s support in providing hygiene kits and sharing information and awareness has really awakened us to the need for preventing and protecting family members from the spread of COVID-19’.” She added: “Having proper hygiene habits through these means will minimize our risk in spreading the virus and will also enhance our overall health and safety”.
Garbage collection in Dawodiya camp
LWF has also stepped up its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) activities in Dawodiya and Shekhan camps, including solid and liquid waste management and the provision of clean drinking water. Staff and volunteers have provided information about COVID-19 and encouraged social distancing in the camps. Mr. Baran Rasho, one of the participants at an awareness training in Dawodiya Camp said: “The awareness session was very informative and useful to better understand the symptoms of the Coronavirus and the ways to prevent its spread.”
LWF staff lead awareness training sessions on hygiene and prevention of COVID-19
Following a request from the Directorate of Health in Mosul, LWF responded immediately by providing disinfectant and detergent, pump sprays, dry and liquid soap, as well as face masks and gloves through a local partner. Brigadier Hossam, the Director of Civil Defence in Mosul, said: “We are so thankful to LWF Iraq and its local partner for their assistance in providing the sterilization materials to the governmental offices. Their quick response enabled us to continue protecting ourselves and keep up the fight against this outbreak’’.
LWF also responded to a similar request from the Directorate of Wana sub-district asking for sterilization equipment and protection materials in order to combat the virus in villages, government departments, schools, commercial centers and places of worship. Additional financial support is needed for disinfecting the camps, as well as protective clothing for staff and the distribution of hand sanitizers and soap to the affected communities.