ALGIERS – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency; United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and five NGO partners urgently need $15 million to respond to the public health needs and immediate humanitarian consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic in the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria.

Fighting Coronavirus in the desert

With the coronavirus pandemic testing health care systems around the world, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and their partners are calling attention to the challenges faced by Sahrawi refugees in Algeria. The current global public health emergency has exacerbated an already difficult situation for a population that has been living under harsh conditions in the Sahara Desert for the past 45 years and is dependent on external humanitarian assistance.

“As governments across the world are taking extraordinary measures to contain the spread and mitigate the impact of COVID-19, we must not forget vulnerable populations such as the Sahrawi refugees. I would like to express our gratitude to the Algerian Government for its continued support to this refugee population and for including them in all the COVID-19 national response strategies,” said Agostino Mulas, UNHCR Representative in Algeria.

“On behalf of all humanitarian actors, I humbly call on donors, whether governments, foundations or individuals, to support these efforts and help the humanitarian community working in the Tindouf camps to face this unprecedented crisis.”

How the UN plans to help Sahrawi refugees during COVID-19

The joint COVID-19 response outlines measures to:

  • (1) prevent transmission of COVID-19 among Sahrawi refugees;
  • (2) provide adequate care for patients affected by COVID-19 and to support their families and close contacts;
  • (3) adapt programs in health, education, food security, protection, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic.

To read the full appeal, with response plan, click here or go to www.wfp.org/publications/comprehensive-needs-covid-19-prevention-and-response-refugees-western-sahara-tindouf

Although the camps are currently under lockdown, the UN humanitarian agencies are working through NGO and community partners to continue to provide live-saving activities and essential health, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene, and food services without disruption. The requested funding will allow the UN agencies and partners to sustain this support during this critical period.

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About the agencies

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. We work to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge, having fled violence, persecution, war or disaster at home. Follow UNHCR on Twitter @Refugees and @unhcralgeria

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. Follow UNICEF on Twitter @unicefAlgerie and Facebook @unicef.dz

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change. Follow WFP on Twitter @wfpusa @wfp @wfp_media @wfp_mena

For more information please contact:

  • Katharina Meyer-Seipp, WFP/Algiers, katharina.meyerseipp@wfp.org, Mob. +49 1577 3961803
  • Russell Fraser, UNHCR/Tindouf, fraser@unhcr.org
  • Selma Hamouda, UNICEF/Algiers, syhamouda@unicef.org, Mob. +213 661 50 84 44
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