As of 8th of May 2020, Syria reported a total of 47 COVID-19 confirmed cases: 15 active, 29 recovered and 3 registered deaths. Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Syria on March 23rd, the Government of Syria has introduced measures amid fears of a spike of the novel coronavirus. Movement restrictions between governorates, as well as a countrywide curfew from 19:30 until 06:00 are still in place in effort to minimize the risks of COVID-19 infections.
Since 06 May 2020, some restrictions have been lifted allowing, among other, universities and public institutions, as well as selected types of local businesses to reopen on condition that appropriate socialdistancing and health safety measures will be adhered to. However, COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the already dire circumstances caused by the deterioration of the economic situation in Syria, increasing the humanitarian needs, including making vital goods such as food, water and hygiene items unaffordable for many. In addition to the loss of their homes due to displacement, people have lost their livelihoods and access to agricultural fields, increasing reliance on humanitarian support.
People affected by humanitarian crises, particularly those displaced and/or living in camps and camp-like settings, are faced with challenges accessing health services that were otherwise available before the COVID19 outbreak. The majority of those on the frontlines of the pandemic are women in the health and social services sectors, increasing their risk of exposure to the disease. Stress, limited mobility and livelihood disruptions also increase women’s and girls’ vulnerability to gender-based violence and exploitation. The most affected and at-risk population groups due to COVID-19 and their vulnerabilities include women and girls who have to abide by sociocultural norms that require the authorization of a male family member to seek health care and receive appropriate treatments, or who lack power to make decisions. Risks are also heightened for pregnant women who are more susceptible to contracting many transmissible infections.
There are clear indications that gender-based violence (GBV), and particularly intimate partner violence, is increasing globally due to some of the containment measures, including prolonged time inside the house with the entire family, compounded by the disruption of support services3 . Syria is no exception. Those at risk and in need of immediate humanitarian assistance also include: pregnant and lactating women, widows, children, people with disabilities, people with chronic diseases, the elderly and those whose coping mechanisms are drastically diminished. The effects of self-isolation and quarantine, lockdown and movement restrictions have created a new wave of GBV risks and significant limitations in availability and access to protection services, including, but not limited to, case management and psychosocial support.