About 120 people who attended a religious gathering in Malaysia have been placed under a 14-day quarantine on Sibakel island off the coast of Basilan Province following their return to Mindanao, Philippines, on 22 March. The deserted island has no basic infrastructure or sources of water and therefore the authorities are providing essential services including food packs, hygiene kits and drinking water. The Department of Social Welfare and Development and the regional Government have set up makeshift shelters with support from the military, with UNHCR and IOM providing tarpaulins and multi-purpose tents. Relief staff and security personnel have been deployed to look after those quarantined. Movement restrictions in the Philippines due to COVID-19 and the suspension of noncritical field missions due to safety precautions continue to result in a number of humanitarian activities being curtailed or halted.
Mount Merapi, lies at the border of Central Java and Yogyakarta, erupted several times on 27 and 28 March, sending a cloud of ash 2,000 meters above the crater and the ashfall some 20 kilometer west and southwest. The alert level of the volcano remains at level 2 (out of 4). A three-kilometer exclusion zone surrounding the crater remains in place. Although there is no displacement due to the eruptions, local governments have increased their preparedness measures.
A Multi-Sector Humanitarian Country Plan for COVID-19 in Afghanistan was launched on 25 March calling for US$108.1m to reach 6.1m people with life-saving assistance across all clusters. The plan outlines preparedness and response efforts for an initial three months and will form the basis of an HRP revision as the situation develops. This emergency plan has a common initial focus on 25 districts with the highest population movements across the border from Iran. In addition to new COVID-19-related activities, the plan also aims to highlight the potential effects of the outbreak on ongoing humanitarian response and spells out mitigation measures to reduce interruptions to life-saving services.
Over 4,000 people were newly displaced in Kyauktaw Township in Rakhine State between 23 to 27 March due to the conflict between the Myanmar Armed Forces and the Arakan Army (AA). This makes a total of over 8,000 people currently displaced in the township, of which more than half are women. According to government figures and reports from humanitarian partners, in a little over 12 months some 70,000 people are now currently displaced in 154 sites in Rakhine and southern areas of Chin State – close to 40 per cent increase compared with the figures reported in December 2019. The active conflict is also causing civilian deaths and injuries on an almost daily basis. A single incident of shelling in Minbya Township of Rakhine on 24 March killed a child and injured at least 15 civilians.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.