There is a great fear of the spread of COVID-19 and the inability to control or limit its outbreak in the
northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo which extends from Afrin and Azaz to Al-Bab and
Jarablus and where a large number of IDP camps (regular and random) and collective shelters exist.
The population of the regular camps reached 160 thousand people, the population of the random
camps reached 130 thousand people, in addition to that some temporary collective shelters and camps
were established recently after the recent wave of displacement from Idlib countryside and the
southern and western countryside of Aleppo as a result of the military campaign of the regime and
Russia forces which displaced about one million people; work is ongoing by the CSOs, NGOs and
other parties operating in the region to establish camps to house them.
The total population of the region reached about 1.7 million people including the residential areas and
camps and the temporary shelters. Here we talk about the northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo
which has fewer camps, IDPs, and population than Idlib and its countryside.
Everyone in the region is in a state of a great fear of the possibility of emergence and spread of the
Coronavirus – especially after its outbreak in the regime areas and Turkey. The possibility of
containing the crisis in case of the outbreak of the virus is weak due to the great weakness in the
capabilities and the bad conditions of the camps and people’s inability to keep the social distance
especially in the camps .
The temporary collective shelters lack the lowest essentials needs of life – while the random camps do
not have the necessary infrastructure (water and sanitation network) and the population of the camps
and temporary shelters suffer from lack of water allocated to per capita and insufficiency and bad
conditions of the toilets and baths which are used Collectively.
There is a lack regarding the distribution of personal hygiene kits (hygiene basket), lack of equipment and works regarding solid waste management, and lack of and insufficiency of the medical points to take care of the sick in general .
The condition of the regular camps does not differ much in terms of services; there are water and sanitation networks and the CSOs – NGOs operating in the region are distributing humanitarian aid almost periodically, but there is a partial interruption in the WASH works in a number of camps in the recent period. The population of the regular camps complains about insufficient water and poor capabilities of medical points in terms of staff, lack of supplies and means of prevention from sterilization materials, masks, etc…
Regarding the Residential areas: they are small geographical spots and overpopulated the thing that makes it difficult to compel the residents to stay in their homes or keep the social distance as a preventive measure because of the poor living/economic conditions of the people, the prevalence of unemployment at a very high rate, the lack of income and dependence on humanitarian aid provided – So, most of the people need to go out and win their bread on a daily basis.
The medical centers in the region don’t have the ability to absorb the COVID-19 cases if outbreak and they lack adequate cadres, prevention requirements and quarantine places.
It is difficult to implement the preventive measures due to the fragility of the infrastructure – there are a large number of people who don’t have homes or even decent tents and the complete absence of the bodies that secure the basic living requirements of the population.
Knowing that the World Health Organization did not prepare or provide anything that would contain the disaster in case of the outbreak of COVID-19, other than providing 62 test kits (till now) to detect COVID-19 cases through the EWARN program of Assistance Coordination Unit, saying that there are no COVID-19 cases in the region, but if COVID-19 outbreaks and the disaster occurs the World Health Organization can not contain it as long as it did not perform the required arrangements and preparations in advance – if COVID-19 outbreaks it could cause the biggest disaster ever under the circumstances that we talked about in this report.
The Syrian Interim Government represented by the Ministry of Health with some of the other parties took several steps, the most important of them;
- Forming a Crisis Management Cell that included (Ministry of Health – Health Directorates in the region – Syrian Civil Defense – Assistance Coordination Unit – Stabilization Support Unit – some other concerned organizations)
- Raising the awareness regarding COVID-19 through the short videos and brochures
- Holding workshops to set plans, discuss the needs and the readiness of hospitals and staff
- Work to speed up the construction of the isolation units
- Work to provide the sterilization materials/means and logistical supplies
- Work to prepare three isolation units for the positive cases who have severe symptoms (capacity of each 20 beds). Note: Till now there are no confirmed positive cases.
- Establishing a tent to detect and investigate suspected cases at each border crossing.
- Training the medical personnel to conduct laboratory tests
- Work to equip the laboratory of the EARLY WARNING ALERT AND RESPONSE network and provide preventive health guidelines
Local authorities and organizations have taken some measures, including:
- Closure of border crossings, with Turkey and the areas controlled by SDF and regime – some humanitarian cases and some commercial exchanges are permitted.
- Closure of schools and universities
- Closure of parks and public places
- Prevention of physical meetings
- The formation of emergency committees to follow-up and organization
- Distribution of awareness-raising brochures
- Sterilization of public places with available/limited capabilities