UNRWA Shuts Syria Schools over Coronavirus Outbreak

UNRWA Shuts Syria Schools over Coronavirus Outbreak

Qabr Essit camp, Rif Damascus, Syria © 2016 UNRWA Photo by Taghrid Mohammad

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has announced its decision to suspend classes in its schools in Syria after more people have been diagnosed with Coronavirus across the MENA region.

The decision is to be put into effect starting March 14 until April 2. There have been no confirmations yet of coronavirus cases among the Palestinian refugee community in Syria.

This week, war-ravaged Syria announced a number of strict measures despite the government saying it has no confirmed cases.

There are concerns that the number of infections is being withheld by the government, with some Syrian lawmakers having questioned the official reports.

The Syrian government announced a series of precautionary measures, including closing schools and universities until April 2.

Following a Cabinet meeting Friday evening, the government also said it was reducing working hours in public institutions and canceling all cultural and sporting events, and all other events involving large gatherings, for the time being.

Syria also says it has taken preventive measures at all ports and border crossings. It has suspended travel with neighboring countries Iraq and Jordan, and it has halted religious tourism for a month.

Other countries across the Middle East have already taken steps to contain the pandemic, including halting flights and imposing self-quarantines.

UNRWA has been active in Syria since it started its field operations in 1950. Since the start of the conflict in 2011, UNRWA has stepped up its operations to ensure the needs of Palestine refugees in the country are met. The Agency is the main provider of humanitarian assistance, protection and basic services to 438,000 Palestine refugees who remain in the country, and who have been among those worst affected by the crisis. Almost 60 per cent of Palestine refugees in Syria have been displaced at least once.

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