Baghdad — The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that the increase in cases of COVID-19 in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Iraq, is of particular and great concern. 2,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 110 deaths had been reported in Iraq by 11 May 2020.
Socially disadvantaged and marginalized populations are disproportionately affected by ill-health. WHO states that “certain populations, such as those with disability, may be impacted more significantly by COVID-19”. When these individuals are members of the large Internally Displaced Person (IDP), refugee, returnee and migrant communities in Iraq that already face challenges accessing health care and relevant information, the impact is even more acute.
On 12 May, the Iraqi Alliance of Disability Organizations (IADO) distributed packages containing hand sanitizer, face masks, gloves and soap to members of the alliance with disabilities living in and around Baghdad. The packages were destined for individuals who have difficulties accessing these items, that are essential for protecting against and slowing the spread of COVID-19. The items were provided to IADO by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as an in-kind donation.
“Through cycles of conflict and economic hardship in Iraq, people with disabilities have faced acute challenges,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “The needs of people with disabilities must be fully considered across our projects and programming, including our COVID-19 response plan in support of vulnerable host communities, IDPs, returnees, migrants and refugees.”
“During this pandemic, the suffering of people with disabilities has multiplied due to isolation; hiatus of many service institutions; and limited transportation options,” said Mowafaq Al Khafajy, Head of IADO. “There should be a plan to respond to the challenges faced by people with disabilities, and to psychological crises. Hotlines must be set up to help people with disabilities and awareness campaigns should be done in sign language too.”
IADO is the national umbrella organization of Disabled Peoples Organizations in Iraq. They are currently running the “Campaign against Corona”, which advocates to government and other local authorities to ensure people with disabilities are not left out of the COVID-19 response. IADO is also sharing awareness messages with its members using videos and live streaming, including videos in Iraqi sign language.
The hygiene items were funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) under the project “Supporting Social Cohesion through Reintegration, Revitalization and Stabilization Support in Iraq”.
For more information please contact IOM Iraq’s Public Information Unit, Tel: +964 751 402 2811, Email: email@example.com
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