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Three years on: Fighting COVID-19 in Cox's Bazar - the worlds largest refugee camp

Almost a million Rohingya Refugees live in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh - sprawling camps built across a hilly landscape.

Photos by Fabeha Monir / Oxfam. 19 May 2020

August 25th, 2020 marks three years since the start of a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar, which resulted in more than 700,000 Rohingya people fleeing to Bangladesh in search of safety.

Stormy skies over Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Over half the refugee population are children.

12 years old Rofika* is carrying drinking water from the water distribution point and heading towards her tent. Rohingya refugee camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

Refugees live in close quarters, using communal toilets and water facilities - sometimes the most basic items, such as soap, are lacking.

Nur Jahan* inside her house in Rohingya refugee camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

"I have lived in this refugee camp for almost three years. There are many challenges we are facing including hot weather. It’s tough to live inside these tents. The water crisis is still here."

Shelters are made from bamboo and tarpaulin and are vulnerable to seasonal monsoons and cyclones.

Cox’s Bazar – Just days after the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the Rohingya settlements of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh Refugees and host community members faced the threat of Cyclone Amphan.

During the monsoon refugees describe a ‘crisis for dry space’, with wet mud encroaching into shelters leaving no dry areas to sleep.

Oxfam staff member Ali (26) works to prepare one of the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar before cyclone Amphan.

Conditions in the camps make refugees vulnerable to Covid-19.

Afiya Khatun* lives in a tent with nine family members. She is worried about the spread of coronavirus. Rohingya refugee camp, Cox's bazar, Bangladesh.

The camps are severely overcrowded with up to 10 people sharing one room and 250 people sharing one tap.

Every day Ameena* (8) spends hours with other neighbors of the Rohingya camp in the queue for collecting drinking water. Rohingya refugee camp Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

“My family live up in the hill. We do not have any water supply there. Everyday I have to queue hours for collecting drinking water. I have heard about the virus. We have to wash our hands and face after reaching to our tent. But none of us could wash our hands regularly because we have limited water for drinking, if we waste water by washing hands, I have to spend entire day queuing for water.”

Communal water taps make social distancing virtually impossible.

70 year-old Abu Salem* outside his tent, Rohingya refugee camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

“How can we stay at our tent. It’s very humid. I am living with eleven members of my family. We are asked to stay at home. I am very afraid of this virus. Everyone is wearing mask. I am wearing a mask too. But if I get infected by the disease all my family members will be infected. This is what I fear most”

When the virus first began spreading in the camps, rpeople were afraid as they had limited information.

Hafeza* with her child inside their tent where eight members of her family is living in one tent during COVID-19 outbreak in the camp. Rohingya refugee camp Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

“We are suffering a lot for humidity, and for water…We are queuing one hour for water. We have heard from others that our people are infected by corona virus. This is why we are now more afraid. Because of the disease people have to stay away from each other. So, I feel fear. It can spread from one another and people get infected easily. This is causing us fear”

Laila and Abu Begum* inside their tent during the COVID-19 outbreak lockdown in Rohingya refugee Camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

“We are very afraid because every day we are hearing someone is getting infected by the virus. My husband and I are staying at home. We do not know what is waiting for us.”

Oxfam and our partners are adapting our work to ensure that people get what they need in these challenging times.

Oxfam volunteer Zahid Hossain (20) preparing to go into the field to work with safety measures during the COVID-19 outbreak in the camp. Cox's Bazar, Rohingya refugee camp. Bangladesh
Oxfam staff member Iffat Tahmid Fatema is providing service in the camp during the COVID-19 outbreak. Cox's BazarRohingya Refugee Camp, Bangladesh

We’re helping people stay healthy by sharing information about the virus.

Oxfam staff member Iffat is speaking to Bibi Jan about hygiene maintentance during COVID-19 outbreak.

“I have learned what should we do to save ourselves from the virus. I will share this information in my area. We have to maintain distance and need to stay at home now. We need to wash our hands every time we return from outside."

Oxfam staff member Rokeya is speaking to Imam Abdul Hossain about hygiene maintentance and importance of distance while praying during COVID-19 outbreak. Cox's Bazar Rohingya refugee camp, Bangladesh.

We’re providing soap and hygiene kits.

Hafeza* is cleaing her hands by sitting at the doorstep of her tent during COVID-19 outbreak in the camp. Rohingya refugee camp Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

We’re helping refugees keep social distance.

Oxfam responding to the COVID-19 outbreak in the camp - markings on the ground are designed to help communities maintain social distancing.

Oxfam and our partners provide clean water.

Noor Haque repairing a mobile phone inside the local market in the Rohingya refugee camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

“Everyone is afraid of the virus. But we do not have enough water in the camp… Oxfam is distributing water inside the camp. We can only have drinking water in our home. How can we manage water to wash our hands”

We are working to maintain water and sanitation facilities.

Oxfam staff are cleaning drains and clearing logged water during Cyclone Amphan. Cox's Bazar Rohingya refugee camp, Bangladesh.

We help refugees prepare for storms.

Oxfam staff, Md. Yusuf and Abu Nayeem secure a water supply tank inside the Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar to protect it from the impact of Cyclone Amphan.

We are adapting to COVID-19 with new innovations, like contactless handwashing stations which are activated with a foot peddle to avoid transmission of the virus from touching the soap and taps.

Nur* is using the recently installed Contactless Handwashing Device in the Rohingya camp.

The handwashing stations are activated with a foot peddle to avoid transmission of the virus from touching the soap and taps.

Toyoba Khatun*, MD. Hossain*, Abdul Malek* using the newly installed soap dispensers for washing hands and keeping distance.
Portrait of Abdul Malek* (80) inside his tent. Abdul Malek is using mask and washing hands regularly. Now he is using the new installed contactless hand washing device by Oxfam.

“I have never seen something like this before. Everyone from our blocks are using this new machine provided by Oxfam. We maintain distance by staying inside the circles made by them. They informed us that we should always maintain distance from each other, wear mask whenever we go out from the tent. I am afraid about the new disease. Already I heard the news of death. We cannot do much, we can only take precaution and stay safe."

Nur Jahan* inside her house wearing a mask to protect herself from COVID-19 as she has to go outside in the yard for her child. Rohingya refugee camp, Cox's Bazar, Banglaesh

"I know about the Coronavirus. I heard that we have to clean hands often with soap. Then we have to dry our hands. We have to do it to prevent the disease. We are not afraid. We know how to wash hands, how to be safe. We heard from volunteers, they told us."

Since 2018, close to a million Rohingya people, more than half of them children, have fled fled prosecution and violence in Myanmar and are now living as refugees in camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh They are living in extremely dire conditions amid increasing threats of floods and destruction to the camps on top of a potentially devastating COVID-19 health crisis as cases continue to be confirmed in the camps.

Climate, Covid and Care: Feminist Journeys

The COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis have a disproportionate impact on people living in poverty, and both are increasing inequality. As we look for ways to fight back, this new zine offers reflections on feminist approaches around the world. What can we learn from young peoples’ leadership? How can we value and integrate Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge? Why is intersectionality crucial in responding to a crisis? How can we build more caring, sustainable societies?

Climate, Covid and Care: Feminist Journeys is a collection of journeys, stories, and ideas from five feminist activists working at the intersection of gender justice and climate justice.

Betty Barkha, she/her

“COVID reiterated the fact that climate change is a threat-multiplier. Just because the entire world is on lockdown, doesn’t mean that climate change or the patriarchy are on lockdown. When Tropical Cyclone Harold hit Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga in March [2020], people’s homes were blown away. How can you be physically, socially distancing when you’ve got no home and evacuation centres are crammed?

“As always, women were the worst hit in this double crisis situation. They were locked in with their abusers. Access to contraceptives was limited. Women’s care work was overloaded. In the Pacific, women are primary caretakers, live with extended families and the care burden is extremely high.

“Solutions have to be two-tiered; targeted at short-term and immediate, but also long-term and sustainable. It can’t be one or the other, we have to figure out a way to make them both work in a way that’s gender inclusive and socially inclusive. It's about shifting the oppressive and restrictive power structures in order to incorporate the needs of the communities. It’s always been about justice.”

Meera Ghani, she/her

“COVID brought attention to a lot of the asks that disability justice groups have been demanding, like remote working. To the asks that care workers have been demanding, like increased wages, because their work is essential. In the lack of government responses, people came to each other's aid. Here we have a lot of learning to do from Indigenous leaders, but also from Black, trans and queer communities. Because they have been practicing community care like no other, forever. We have seen a lot of their own approaches and methodologies come to the fore.

“We need to divest from institutions and corporations that are life-threatening: those that are killing the planet, killing the people. We need degrowth in the northern economies –those that enable the life-threatening conditions. We need to decolonise hearts and minds. It’s not a limited pie that we must distribute in a certain way, we must get away from this scarcity mentality. We need to reinvest in communities, institutions, and organisations that are life-affirming. And then we need the redistribution of wealth and resources in a fundamentally different way.”

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World Humanitarian Day 2020: Celebrating Yemen's Local Heroes in the Midst of Crisis

This World Humanitarian Day, Oxfam pays tribute to all humanitarians, like Heba, Asem and Abeer – three extraordinary people, who are working to ensure that their community and their country can one day thrive.

By Ahmed Al Fadeel, Omar Algunaid, and Hannah Cooper

For people in Yemen, like people across the globe, 2020 has been a year like no other. Over five years into a conflict that has killed thousands and uprooted millions from their homes, the COVID-19 pandemic has added yet another layer to the country’s ongoing crisis. Health services – already operating at half their pre-war capacity – have been overwhelmed, and people’s fear of COVID-19 may be preventing them for seeking healthcare, potentially masking a deadly cholera outbreak. On top of this, the economy is collapsing; remittances have fallen dramatically due to recession and job losses in other parts of the world. Meanwhile, over halfway through the year, less than a quarter of the money needed for the humanitarian response has so far been given.

Yet, in the midst of these layers of crisis are the many extraordinary Yemenis who are standing with their communities to help in any way they can. Wherever any crisis hits, local people and communities are on the frontlines of the response, and Yemen is no exception.

Despite the impact that COVID-19 has had on all of their lives – from Asem, who has had to put his medical degree on hold, to Heba, who worries every day that her nine-month-old baby will fall sick with the virus – they continue to help people worse off than themselves. This World Humanitarian Day, Oxfam pays tribute to all humanitarians who, like them, are working to ensure that their country can one day thrive.

Heba, Oxfam’s PHP Officer in Aden, gets ready to conduct a community dialogue meeting to determine the main challenges and problems the community is facing. Photo: Omar Algunaid/Oxfam

Heba: “We are humanitarians… if we don’t stay to help people, who will?”

Heba works as a Public Health Promotion Officer for Oxfam in her hometown of Aden, southern Yemen. Her job – which involves raising awareness around the importance of good hygiene, and training community health volunteers to deliver hygiene awareness sessions – has put her on the frontlines of the country’s COVID-19 response. Throughout the four years that Heba has worked with Oxfam in Yemen, she has seen the impact of diseases such as cholera, dengue and polio; but the COVID-19 response has been a challenge unlike any other:

“It’s been difficult – we try to avoid meeting with our colleagues, and we’ve been really careful about going out to speak with the community. So much of our work is normally done face-to-face, but we’ve had to find other ways of making sure that communities are aware of what they can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 [such as phoning people up or visiting individuals so that we don’t gather in large groups]. As a mother and wife, I was also concerned for the health of my family and my nine-month-old baby. This is a disease that could affect anyone.”

Despite her worries, however, Heba told us that she believes the work she does to be more important than ever:

“I am proud to be part of Oxfam and have the opportunity to contribute to supporting people in my country. We are humanitarians. We are needed more than ever in times like these; if we don’t stay to help and support people, who will?”

Asem, conducting a hygiene awareness session about COVID-19 prevention methods. Photo: Omar Algunaid/Oxfam

Asem: “COVID-19 turned our lives upside down”

Asem is a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) with Oxfam in a village in Al-Dhale, southern Yemen, where his family lives. He joined Oxfam’s growing team of CHVs in May this year, going door-to-door and holding group sessions to raise awareness within his community around good hygiene practice, so that people can protect themselves from disease.

Asem, a first-year medical student in Morocco – where he had received a scholarship to study – had come home to visit his family when the pandemic struck. Travel restrictions meant that he couldn’t return to university, so he decided to volunteer with Oxfam:

“COVID-19 turned our lives upside down. I was worried and frightened in the beginning – I felt so helpless.  I started volunteering with Oxfam to raise people’s awareness about COVID-19, and how to protect themselves. We make sure that the awareness sessions respect physical distancing, of course – over time, good hygiene practice has become part of our routine.”

According to Asem, one of the biggest challenges in Yemen is asking people to stay inside, where possible, to avoid spreading COVID-19. In a country where working from home is not a realistic option for most, people need to go out to work to be able to afford food for their families.

“I chose to volunteer with Oxfam because I wanted to help people in my village to protect themselves from diseases. Despite the risks and challenges, I think it’s important that people are raising awareness – and as a young person I feel like it’s my responsibility to protect others.”

Abeer, in the IDP camp delivering key hygiene awareness messages on Covid-19 and ways to avoid it. Photo: Ahmed Al Fadeel/Oxfam

Abeer: “It’s a really difficult feeling when you see so many people in need and you know that the help available just isn’t enough.”

Abeer, originally from the Yemeni capital Sana’a, works as a Public Health Officer in Hajjah. This area in northern Yemen has been hard hit by conflict and hosts a large population of displaced people, the majority of whom are women and children. They live in crowded camps where social distancing is often impossible, and access to clean water and hygiene products is inadequate.

“When I was a child I loved helping others, so I studied hard to become a social worker and make sure I could work with people who need help. Oxfam gave me the chance to enter the humanitarian world – something I had dreamed of doing.”

She told us how the arrival of COVID-19 has added to the daily challenges of humanitarian workers in Yemen:

“There were already thousands of families living in terrible conditions in the camps for displaced people in Hajjah. With the arrival of coronavirus, the situation became even worse. It’s a really difficult feeling when you see so many people in need of assistance and you know that the help available just isn’t enough. And, with the drop in funding, instead of increasing to match the rising need, we have had to cut some of our projects. That’s been the most difficult for me throughout this pandemic. It’s a terrible feeling.”

Yet, despite the challenges, Abeer continues to see the difference that her work makes for those who have already lost so much:

“My job gives me the opportunity to make a tangible change to my country. The most rewarding part of it is seeing the smiles on the faces of the people we help – we’re saving lives through providing people with food, shelter, clean water, and soap. Over the past five years, we’ve worked to help people whose homes have been totally destroyed by war.”

Since the confirmation of cases of COVID-19 in Yemen in April, Oxfam has refocused its work to respond to the pandemic. We are working on rehabilitating water supplies, distributing hygiene kits for the most vulnerable households, and trucking in clean water to camps for people who have had to flee their homes. We have also given cash for food to families affected by flooding. Across Yemen, we’re training community health volunteers to spread the word about COVID-19 and the importance of hygiene and handwashing.

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One air raid every ten days on hospitals, clinics, wells and water tanks in Yemen

  • COVID-19 isolation centres reportedly hit in March and April

  • Yemen’s vital infrastructure in the cross hairs of war 

Medical and water infrastructure in Yemen has been hit during air raids almost 200 times since the conflict escalated more than five years ago, Oxfam said today, as the country continues to battle its outbreak of COVID-19.

The Oxfam analysis of information on airstrikes collected by the Yemen Data Project, revealed that this is equivalent to one air raid every ten days during the conflict - affecting essential services such as hospitals, clinics, ambulances, water drills, tanks and trucks.  

Arms exporting countries have continued to profit from the sale of billions of dollars-worth of munitions to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners throughout the course of the war in Yemen, which is now in its fifth year; despite knowing that some of these arms could be used in violation of international humanitarian law. The conflict escalated in March 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition backed the internationally recognised government against the Houthis

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said: “Half a decade of war has decimated Yemen’s medical facilities, with only half fully functional. While other life-saving and vital infrastructure like water tanks and wells have also been caught in the cross hairs of this seemingly endless conflict. The United Nations estimates that 20.5 million people – over four times the population of Ireland – need help to get clean water at a time when that basic human right has never been more essential due to COVID-19. This pandemic has created a catastrophic triple threat for the people of Yemen already facing sever hunger and cholera. Our colleagues in Yemen warned last month that thousands of people could be dying from undetected cases of cholera because COVID-19 has overwhelmed the country’s remaining health facilities. 

“Ireland has previously shown support for the cause of justice and accountability in Yemen, calling for the international community to respond, including by working together to bring an immediate end to the conflict that is destroying so many lives and crippling the country’s economy and infrastructure. That call is all the more urgent as hospitals, clinics, water tanks and wells continue to damaged and demolished, all while the number of people in desperate need remains shamefully high and ever-growing.”  

Yemen reported its first case of COVID-19 in April. As of 17th August, 1,869 cases and 530 deaths have been confirmed but it’s thought the true number of people affected is much higher than this. 

Since the confirmation of cases of COVID-19 in Yemen in April, Oxfam has refocused its work to respond to the pandemic - working on rehabilitating the water supply to one of the main hospitals in Aden, distributing hygiene kits for the most vulnerable households, and trucking in clean water to camps for people who have had to flee their homes. Across Yemen, Oxfam are training community health volunteers to spread the word about the virus and the importance of hygiene and hand washing. 

Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director said: “Lives aren’t just lost when the bombs fall, but also, during the weeks, months or years it takes for hospitals and wells to be rebuilt. 

“The international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to Yemen’s suffering which is being fuelled by international arms sales.”

ENDS

Contact:

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 87 912 3165

Alice Dawson-Lyons | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 83 198 1869 

Notes to the Editor

The Yemen Data Project recorded 86 air raids on medical facilities and 107 on water tanks, trucks, drills and dams between 26March 2015 and 30 June 2020.

The Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP), which collects reports of all incidents of armed violence with a direct civilian impact, has recorded 115 occasions when medical or water facilities have been hit in the last two and a half years. This includes airstrikes, shelling and small arms fire. 102 civilians died and 185 were injured in these incidents.

CIMP recorded 115 incidents involving medical or water infrastructure between 1 January 2018 and 31 July 2020.

CIMP received reports of airstrikes on three quarantine centres – one in Saleef district of Hudaydah governorate in late March and two in Al Maljim district of Bayda governorate in early April. 

So much damage has been done to civilian infrastructure, rebuilding it is likely to cost tens of billions of dollars. The UNDP has cited a 2016 damage and needs assessment which estimated the cost of damage to physical infrastructure in Yemen to be between US $4–US $5 billion, including US $79–US $97 million to water, sanitation and hygiene. 

The UNDP report into the economic cost of the war is available here.  

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International Youth Day 2020

Youth and COVID-19 in the Sahel – when mutual aid goes viral

West Africa has been struck by COVID-19 lockdown measures, as much as the virus itself. Restrictions on movement and the closing of borders and markets came at the worst time, during the harvest period, which mobilises the workforce, especially women and young people. Many people now find themselves without work and income in a context where 66 percent of the working population is in precarious employment and do not have sufficient resources to survive without daily work. To make matters worse, this is happening while food prices rise and the spaces to sell products become increasingly inaccessible.

With nearly 150,000 confirmed cases and over 2,000 deaths so far, the measures put in place by governments are essential to slowing the spread of the virus among the most vulnerable communities.

But to cope with the pandemic, West Africa has a major asset: its youth.

Seventy-six percent of West Africans are under 25, making it the youngest population in the world. Several young people have stood in solidarity and mobilised by moving the lines in their own way and embodying the hope of a better tomorrow. We went to meet them in Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Nigeria and Chad. They are all young people with very real power who, in times of crisis, have chosen to be part of the solution.

Photo: Cissé Amadou/Oxfam

Malika, Burkina Faso

“It’s hard to get someone to understand COVID-19 when they’re hungry.”

Malika Ouattara, better known as “Malika la Slameuse”, is a slam music artist in Burkina Faso. She puts her talent and energy at the service of social causes, not only through her music, but as president of the Slamazone Foundation, which she created in March 2019 to put her art to the benefit of the poor.

Faced with the coronavirus crisis, Malika wasted no time in readjusting her activities: “We are raising awareness on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 with hygienic measures and we made a call to buy 10 ventilators for the country.”

But the challenges are enormous in the face of this crisis, which is now adding to a worsening security situation that has internally displaced hundreds of thousands of people with disastrous humanitarian consequences. “We are talking about the disease, the virus, but we must not forget that hunger is a disease itself which perhaps kills much more… There is a crisis in the crisis. We have to broaden our goals and it's really a big job to focus on several issues at once.”

Photo: Xavier Thera/Oxfam

Adam, Mali

“The virus knows neither rich, poor, young, nor old. It attacks everyone. So let's join hands and let's fight together so that this virus cannot spread."

Adam is a young Malian activist who fights so that the demands of young people are heard. She fights for democracy and the promotion of citizenship.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Adam comes to the aid of displaced persons and destitute children through the organisation she created, the Association of Youth for Active Citizenship and Democracy (AJCAD). She distributes hygiene kits, including soap, hand gel and gloves, and then uses web TV and social networks to raise awareness about the disease and hygiene measures to prevent it: “There are still people in Mali who don't believe in the existence of this virus,” she explains.

On her web TV, Adam challenges and warns of the negative impact of lockdown restrictions on small traders as well as the absence of accompanying measures to help them cop

Photo: Jide Ojediran

Hamzat, Nigeria

“COVID-19 has widened the inequality gap in our society.”

Hamzat is an activist who makes it a point to ensure transparency in the use of public funds in Nigeria, which has the least-engaged government in the world in the fight against inequalities, according to a 2019 Oxfam report. The impacts of COVID- 19 only amplify inequalities: “To date, almost 100 million people are poor [in Nigeria] and many of them have been locked down.”

With millions of euro donated by individuals and organisations – including the European Union – to Nigeria to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, Hamzat’s action is all the more necessary. He uses digital tools and social networks to monitor public financial resources while respecting confinement and social distancing measures: “It is important to document these expenses so that, after COVID-19, citizens have access to audits and can hold the government to account.”

Hamzat’s influence extends beyond his country’s borders. The group he had already created before the pandemic, Follow the Money, brings together 6,000 young people who monitor the use of public financial resources in education, water and sanitation in seven African countries.

Photo: Awal Issa Rachid

Awal Issa Rachid, Niger

“It is not loyal for a health worker to hide in such moments when his expertise is sought after more than ever.”

 Awal Issa Rachid is a young doctor who has just graduated and does not run away from being on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis in Niger. He and his young colleagues from the Association of Young Doctors of Niger are still awaiting integration into the Niger public service. However, there is no question of waiting in the face of the rapidly spreading pandemic in the country.

“It is our responsibility to fulfill our duty as citizens and to assist people in distress.”

Dr. Rachid takes care of people infected with the coronavirus, including those who are rejected or marginalised within their community because of the contagious and virulent nature of the disease. He does this without a salary, and despite having minimal protective equipment to protect him from exposure: “We need protection kits to minimise the risks of contamination.”

Dr. Rachid believes that Niger’s coronavirus response requires the collective efforts of all: “We must all lead the fight against coronavirus disease. It is our responsibility to fulfill our duty as citizens to help sick people. Everyone can take actions to reduce the spread of the disease.”

Photo: Sylvain Cherkaoui/Oxfam

Salim, Chad

"Misinformation is worse than a pandemic.”

Salim is a young Chadian activist who fights for digital access for all. A computer scientist by profession, he is the co-founder of WenakLabs, a youth association that promotes active citizenship and participative democracy through technological innovation and the opening up of public data.

Salim was quick to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. From the start of the pandemic in Chad, he created the “1313” mobile application to raise awareness, inform and combat false information related to COVID-19. The term “1313” refers to the information line set up by the Ministry of Posts and New Technologies of Chad and with which Salim has established a partnership. This has enabled him to integrate the national cell in charge of monitoring and health security. “All of these actions have been selfless because we are aware of what this pandemic is causing to our generation. And it is only together, by mobilising all of us that we can take action against this pandemic.”

Contagious passion

These initiatives are just a sample. The dynamism and mutual aid among young people in West Africa are contagious (in a really good way!) and have spread quickly during the COVID-19 crisis. To find out more, just take a look at the COVID-19 community engagement dashboard in the region.

A special mention to Africtivistes who continue to defend democratic values, human rights and good governance through digital technology by adapting to the context of COVID-19.

In partnership with Oxfam, they are preparing to map youth initiatives linked to COVID-19 in West Africa to promote them among communities and with local and regional authorities. This will also help create a network of exchange and inspiration, stimulating the civic engagement of young people across West Africa.

On this International Youth Day 2020, we salute young activists and leaders across the world for their contribution and role in finding solutions, creating innovations and providing support to those who need it most during a global pandemic that has inevitably impacted young people everywhere.

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