Somalia: ICRC Steps Up to Curb Spread of COVID-19 and Save Lives

The International Committee of the Red Cross is calling for immediate action to curb the spread of COVID-19 and save lives in Somalia, saying the country is at a critical juncture.

In a statement issued in Nairobi, Kenya, ICRC expressed deep concern for “the impact that the virus could have on communities weakened by violence and conflict, where displacement, malnutrition, and outbreaks of disease are already widespread.”

About 500 health workers and SRCS volunteers have been trained in COVID-19 prevention and symptoms, the statement said.

Head of ICRC’s delegation for Somalia, Juerg Eglin said “Speed is critical, and we are working with our colleagues at the Somali Red Crescent to fight COVID-19 from fully taking hold.”

SRCS and ICRC are stepping up efforts to reach 130,000 households, organizing information sessions and providing guidelines on how to prevent the COVID-19. They emphasize that use of soap and chlorine is crucial under the present circumstances.

In addition, the ICRC is distributing gloves, bleach, and other equipment to hospitals and clinics across the country. It has also provided six-months’ worth of soap for all inmates and staff to detention centers in Mogadishu and Kismayo.

“We must do everything we can to prevent the virus from entering a prison,” health coordinator for the ICRC in Somalia, Ana Maria Guzman, said. “Physical distancing is nearly impossible, and an outbreak of COVID-19 in a jail would be devastating for both inmates and staff.”

Compounded with violence and poverty, the situation in Somalia is particularly critical.

“Violence continues. Climate shocks continue. We will have to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in Somalia, with the additional threat that COVID-19 brings,” Eglin said.

“If we have a surge in cases, the health system will not be able to cope,” Guzman said.

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