Syria

Northeast Syria: COVID-19 Multi-Sectoral Rapid Needs Assessment (April 2020)

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Focused on COVID-19 related indicators in communities across northeast Syria, April 2020

Syria reported its first case of COVID-19 on 22 March, and as of 2 May had 44 cases and three fatalities.1 There has been one reported fatality from COVID-19 in northeast Syria and two additional cases were confirmed in Al-Hasakeh city on 30 April.1 Humanitarian organisations have warned that an outbreak of COVID-19 in the region would be disastrous.2 In March, a series of decrees concerning precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus were issued by local authorities in northeast Syria. This includes a lockdown that has been extended until 11 May.3

Nine years of conflict has led to major deficiencies in the region's health system with many health facilities no longer functioning and those that remain open already struggling to respond to existing medical needs prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.2 In addition, sporadic conflict escalation since October 2019 has contributed to mass displacement across northeast Syria and severe overcrowding in many internally displaced person (IDP) camps in turn leading to challenges relating to infection prevention and control (IPC).4 Humanitarian agencies have also reported water access constraints due to damage to the Allouk water station which provides water to an estimated 460,000 people across Al-Hasakeh governorate.5

As such, providing humanitarian assistance to meet the existing needs of IDP and host community populations across NES remains challenging. Further, the humanitarian response should now additionally comprise preparedness measures required for COVID-19, which represents a complex and grave challenge.

REACH conducted a rapid needs assessment (RNA) between 14 and 16 April 2020 aimed at providing a multi-sectoral overview of the humanitarian situation for IDPs and host communities in northeast Syria. This RNA was deployed together with REACH's monthly Humanitarian Situation Overview in Syria (HSOS), to support operational actors across northeast Syria. The assessment aims to provide a regional understanding of the existing measures and atittudes of residents, and to also identify the preventative and response capacity of communities in order to better inform humanitarian programming. This factsheet outlines COVID-19 specific information obtained from the RNA, and is supplemented by COVID-19 relevant information from previous REACH assessments in northeast Syria, such as HSOS and Market Monitoring Exercise (MME), where relevant.

METHODOLOGY

To provide essential information on the level of community awareness and on the preventive and response capacities with regards to COVID-19 in communities across northeast Syria, REACH conducted an RNA in 492 locations (including 28 neighbourhoods in Al-Hasakeh city and 13 neighbourhoods in Quamishli city). Data collection was conducted in parallel with HSOS data collection. As such, data from these two assessments is complementary and relevant information from the HSOS assessment has been used to inform this report.6 Data was collected via community-level key informant (KI) interviews with an average of three KIs per community, between 2 and 16 April 2020 for HSOS, and between 14 and 16 April for the RNA. The complete dataset is available here.

Regular monitoring of northeast Syria is available through REACH's monthly HSOS. REACH also deployed an RNA covering communities in Hasakeh governorate in December 2019, and an RNA covering Ar-Raqqa, Aleppo and Deir-ez-Zor governorates in December 2019. REACH also coordinated a joint RNA focusing on IDPs in host communities in Hasakeh governorate, in February 2020. Finally,
REACH recently produced a report on the impact of COVID-19 on markets in northern Syria.

LIMITATIONS

Due to the KI methodology used, findings are not statistically representative and should only be considered as indicative of the situation in assessed communities. The rapidly evolving context in the assessed area, especially with regards to the COVID-19 situation, means that findings are only indicative of the situation at the time the data was collected (2 to 16 April 2020).

As analysis was conducted at the community level, specific camp/site conditions are not highlighted, especially the conditions of those living in small sites with only a few households.