COVID-19 SPECIAL: Turkey, Cameroon, Thailand

A camp for displaced people near the Bab al-Hawa border A camp for displaced people near the Bab al-Hawa border © IBRAHIM YASOUF/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

In Focus by Silvia Luminati; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

 1. Turkey

On 11 March, Turkey registered its first coronavirus case and confirmed a total of 47,029 COVID-19 cases on 11 April. As the virus spreads, humanitarian organisations are concerned that the needs of refugee communities might not be met. According to the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), Turkey currently hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees who live in overcrowded camps and informal settlements with poor sanitation and limited access to healthcare services. These living conditions pose a threat to the health and wellbeing of the  refugee communities. Moreover, the COVID-19 crisis has only deepened health-related needs of those communities triggered by the conflict, such as physical injuries, chronic diseases and psycho-social problems.


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2. Cameroon

On 3 April, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said that the Southern Cameroons Defence Forces have endorsed his appeal for a global ceasefire to concentrate on fighting the spread of the coronavirus. However, the health facilities have been  seriously damaged in the north-west and south-west regions as a result of the years of conflict. According to the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF), only 34% of health facilities in Anglophone regions are functional. In addition, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that 679,393 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern and southern regions and other 297,380 IDPs in the Far North are in need of healthcare assistance. To date, Cameroon has recorded 848 COVID-19 cases.


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3.  Thailand

On 3 April, the Patani Malay National Revolutionary Front (BRN), joining the appeal of the Secretary-General, released a statement announcing a truce to facilitate the humanitarian response to the “principal enemy of the human race”. Thai Muslim rebels consented to a temporary ceasefire for the first time since the beginning of the 17-year-old conflict. Their willingness aims to create a “comfortable and peaceful environment for the people of Patani for health care agencies and other organisations tasked with preventing and containing the outbreak of coronavirus”. Thailand has now reported over 2,000 coronavirus cases, with over 100 of those based in southern Thailand, where the BRN group is based.


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