Anne Irfan contributes the latest blog in our series on COVID-19 and focuses on Palestinian refugee camps. Currently there are 58 such camps located across Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, administered by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Over-crowding is common, as is enforced immobility, with pass systems, checkpoints and curfews.
Irfan writes, “the COVID-19 pandemic has arrived into this environment, where immobility was already the norm for many people.” She highlights the situation of Gaza, which “is particularly vulnerable in view of its extremely high population density, poor infrastructure, and poverty … its healthcare sector has 3 ventilators per 100,000 people.”
However, she also highlights how “Palestinian refugees themselves are…pioneering new initiatives to combat the virus … refugees are not only victims of the virus; they are also assets in the fight against it.”