COVID-19 SPECIAL: Mauritania, West Papua

Water point constructed by MSF at Mbera camp, Mauritania Water point constructed by MSF at Mbera camp, Mauritania © Halimatou Amadou

In Focus by Silvia Luminati

1. Mauritania

Although few cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed so far, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Mauritania is supporting COVID-19 awareness raising campaigns among refugee communities. Moreover, the UN Agency is working “to meet new mounting needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic” providing food, clean water, shelter and healthcare assistance to 2779 refugees living in the urban centres of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and to further 57 000 persons at Mbera camp in south-eastern Mauritania. The United Nations is also cooperating with the Mauritanian government to ensure that the refugees are included in the COVID-19 national response plan.


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2. West Papua

The spread of COVID-19 remains low for the province of West Papua with only 16 reported cases , but this low number of infections could also be a result of a lack in tracing and testing. Infact, several civil society organizations criticised the unpreparedness of the public health system to face the COVID-19 challenge and the lack of access to healthcare by war-torn communities. They also urge the authorities, as proposed by the Free Papua Organization (OPM) and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) groups, to heed the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire and to withdraw troops and accept the truce to contain the pandemic in the region. However, at the time of writing, the Indonesian government has still to agree to a ceasefire.


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