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Fleeing conflict amid the pandemic crisis

The current pandemic crisis is already affecting the whole world horribly. Hundreds are dying as a direct cause of the virus. However, even though it feels like the world is stopping with most of our outside activities limited, wars around the world aren’t fazed with a mere global health crisis. Thus, even amid this catastrophic global disaster and with most borders closed, people are still forced to flee their homes for the slight chance of survival. 

Coronavirus ceasefire treaties

In April, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, urged all war-torn countries to an immediate ceasefire treaty in order to focus on the “true fight of our lives”. Nigeria, Colombia, Camaron (Ambazonia/North West-South West), Sudan, Philippines, Yemen have all agreed for a temporal treaty, albeit with some conditions. Also, the Taliban offered a ceasefire in Afghanistan only in the case of detecting positive covid19 patients. However, other countries like Thailand offered other humanitarian alternatives, though without decreeing any ceasefire. Therefore, such positive responses offered the world a silver lining for peace, though not for long.

Continued armed conflict and displacement 

Despite the efforts of the United Nations, armed conflict in many countries still prevails. Moreover, Even though many of these countries did agree with the global treaty, they ignored it all the same. 

A new report indicated that almost 661,000 people have been displaced in 19 countries during the coronavirus pandemic. These countries include:

Nigeria

In Nigeria, terror groups took advantage of the current situation. Moreover,  Boko Haram, a terrorist group, led several insurgency attacks on civilian villages. Thus, they terrorized and took control of them. More than 10,000 people were displaced as a direct and indirect result of those attacks.

 Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo has witnessed some of the most brutal militia attacks during the past couple of months. Reports proved that more than 480,000 people have been forced to leave their homes due to the clashes taking place between armed groups and the country’s military forces. hence, these numbers account for 75% of the total number of people displaced during the current crisis. Though there are currently less than 2,000 confirmed cases and 61 deaths due to COVID-19 in DR Congo, the virus can spread like wildfire in these unprotected and overcrowd regions. The internal displacement will increase citizens’ vulnerability in the face of the coronavirus.

Yemen

Despite getting involved in the ceasefire treaty, conflict in Yemen still prevails. On 10 April, the country confirmed its first positive covid19 case. However, that day also marked the day of which almost 500 families were internally displaced as they fled from the ongoing conflict. The ceasefire call was ignored and at least 24,000 people paid the price. They had to flee their homes to live in tents inside the desert despite the looming threat of the pandemic.

Furthermore, Chad, Afghanistan, Syria, and Myanmar were among the countries that accounted for the displacement of more than 10,000 people.  

A double disaster

All of these refugees are not only battling famine and poverty, but they’re also very vulnerable to the threat of infection. Most of them live in unsuitable shelters such as camps, damaged houses, or they are crowded into public buildings. Moreover, they are under-equipped and simply not ready to face this health crisis. 

The UNHCR reported almost 350,000 calls from refugees and internally displaced people who were asking for urgent financial assistance to help in covering their daily existential needs. Refugees are also losing their source of income due to the covid19 impact on the global economy. 

Furthermore, in several countries many refugees are resorting to survival sex, begging, or hawking on the streets. Hence, making them more vulnerable to coronavirus infection and spreading the disease.

All in all, everyone around the world is suffering due to the current health crisis. However, it seems that even this hellish pandemic isn’t enough to stop the armed conflict in war-ridden countries. Thus, displaced people and refugees are living in poor environments and are defenseless in the face of the virus. 

References;

COVID-19 and its effects on the environment. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2020, from https://inhabitat.com/covid-19-and-its-effects-on-the-environment/

2020, Published 21. May. “Crossfire and Covid-19: Double Crisis for Displaced Civilians.” NRC, www.nrc.no/resources/reports/crossfire-and-covid-19-double-crisis-for-displaced-civilians/.

Abdulkareem, Nasser, and Riona McCormack. “Forced to Flee during the ‘Coronavirus Ceasefire.’” NRC, www.nrc.no/perspectives/2020/forced-to-flee-during-the-coronavirus-ceasefire/.

Ahmet Gurhan Kartal. “Conflicts Displaced over Half-Million amid Virus: Report.” Anadolu Ajansı, 2020, www.aa.com.tr/en/world/conflicts-displaced-over-half-million-amid-virus-report/1850345.

Ceasefires in Armed Conflicts during Coronavirus Pandemic. Escola De Cultura De Pau, 2020, escolapau.uab.cat/img/programas/alerta/informes/FI04_Coronavirus_IN.pdf.

United Nations. “Displaced People Urgently Need Aid and Access to Social Safety Nets as Coronavirus Causes Severe Hardship.” UNHCR, 2020, www.unhcr.org/news/briefing/2020/5/5eabdc134/displaced-people-urgently-need-aid-access-social-safety-nets-coronavirus.html.

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