COVID-19 SPECIAL: Iraq, Nagorno-Karabakh

Disinfection activities in Iraqi refugee camps Disinfection activities in Iraqi refugee camps © UNICEF

In Focus by Silvia Luminati

1. Iraq

Despite Iraq being  no longer gripped by the conflict, the country is prone to an ISIS resurgence as the terrorist organization continues to be active in some regions. Furthermore, 1.4 million persons are internally displaced, many living in overcrowded camps with poor  hygienic conditions and still more live in informal settlements where they face additional challenges. The United Nation High Commissioner for refugees has put in place preparedness and response measures  in camps, such as the provision of cash to 110 000 vulnerable families identified among the refugees and displaced communities to purchase basic hygiene products. Moreover, the United Nations Children’s agency and other humanitarian agencies have frequently sterilized the Ninawa, Jedaa, Hamam Al-Alil and Salamiyah camps.

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2. Nagorno-Karabakh

The disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region is located inside Azerbaijan with the Armenian ethnic majority having gained control of the region after a bloody war from 1991 and 1994 during which nearly 30 000 persons were killed and forcing around 1 million persons to flee. Despite the truce agreed in 1994, sporadic clashes were continuing but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both Azerbaijan and Armenian military authorities lifted military blockades on the border. In this regard,  the personal representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, reports that “[military] monitoring exercises will be suspended”. At the moment there are only two international organizations working in the region, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, which are distributing health kits containing soap, hand sanitizer and brochures containing guidelines to prevent COVID-19.

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