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Norwegian Refugee Council’s Covid-19 response (Activity Update 6 April 2020)

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The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting over 100 countries worldwide. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is committed to preventing and responding to the crisis among refugees, displaced persons and host communities.

NRC programme activities

Asia, Europe and Latin America

Venezuela: NRC is preparing to digitally share messages on coronavirus prevention and response in addition to providing multipurpose cash and WASH in health clinics. We are also initiating procurement of health and hygiene items identified through assessments as the most critically needed. NRC managed to re-adapt our school feeding programme and to continue delivering food during the month of March, while different modalities for distributions are being considered for the future, as restrictions of movement have become stricter. Negotiations for humanitarian exemptions are still ongoing.

Afghanistan: NRC continues to deliver essential programming by promoting access to essential services and protection, while adapting our operations to support and strengthen the broader public health response and reduce protection risks to vulnerable communities. We have ramped up our information dissemination activities to inform communities of the risks associated with the coronavirus and promote behaviour that can mitigate the chances of contracting the virus. NRC is currently focusing on providing water and sanitation facilities, including critical hygiene kits. In addition, we continue to provide assistance in obtaining civil documentation to ease access to health facilities, particularly for displaced Afghans who have recently returned from neighbouring Iran and Pakistan and we are carefully monitoring the rate of evictions that might increase as result of social stigma related to coronavirus. Finally, together with WHO, NRC is co-leading the newly-establish Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) Working Group, which aims to establish a collective approach to RCCE for all operational humanitarian actors in country to ensure that messaging is consistent with that of global coronavirus guidance, but tailored to the specific information needs and local dynamics of the Afghanistan context.

Iran: NRC is quickly adapting programmes to address the immediate response needs of vulnerable populations at risk of coronavirus infection. To date, we have already distributed soaps and information leaflets among 6,000 households in three settlements in Kerman, Qom and Semnan provinces. NRC is further preparing to facilitate distribution of 1,600 hygiene kits and information pamphlets to 3 locations in Sistan and Baluchistan province. Discussions with authorities are also ongoing to provide assistance to health posts in urban areas highly populated by Afghans. We are attempting to negotiate identification of and access to schools to rehabilitate hand washing stations and other WASH facilities and equipment that will contribute to a healthier learning environment when schools resume. NRC recognises the critical need to continue reaching the most vulnerable Afghans in order to meet their basic needs, support those who have lost their income due to coronavirus and reduce negative coping mechanisms and is exploring how remote cash-based assistance can be utilised.

Honduras: NRC is assisting recently arrived refugees and have requested safe-passage documents to enable us to assist cases, shelters and reception centres directly. We are also scaling up our humanitarian assistance for the families of children in our education programmes, providing them with cash transfers, food vouchers and water tanks. We are also providing ICLA support via telephone.

El Salvador: Our ICLA and education teams continue to provide cash transfers to ensure that displaced persons can access shelter and basic needs. We also continue to provide ICLA support via telephone.

Panama: Due to the increased restrictions on movement in Panama, NRC is now facilitating our cash programming through online banking platforms. We have requested safe-passage documents to enable us to respond to emergency cases directly. In Panama as well we are providing ICLA support via telephone.

Colombia: NRC continues to deliver multi-purpose cash via electronic distribution methods as the livelihoods of vulnerable displaced populations have been severely affected. WASH activities, specifically hygiene promotion, awareness messages and construction or rehabilitation of handwashing stations and water provision have been implemented. Additionally, we provide accommodation solution for homeless persons, people on the move or populations that do not have permanent shelter so they can practice social isolation or quarantine as necessary.

Ecuador: NRC has established a communication system using phone calls where displaced persons can communicate to receive legal information and referrals to service providers. WASH activities, specifically hygiene promotion and water provision, have been implemented. We are also currently providing accommodation solutions for Venezuelan migrants and refugees.