Arab League Warns of COVID-19 Risk in Refugee Camps Set Up in Syria

Arab League Warns of COVID-19 Risk in Refugee Camps Set Up in Syria

Residents of Syria's besieged Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp carry food parcels, February 1, 2014 (photo credit: UNRWA/AFP)

The Arab League warned Wednesday that a humanitarian disaster could occur if the coronavirus pandemic spreads in refugee camps set up in Syria, Anadolu reports.

A statement by the bloc’s 22 Arab nations came after a meeting between its Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit and UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen.

They discussed the dangerous consequences of the spread of the virus among refugees and asylum seekers, and the importance of an Idlib cease-fire agreement, inked March 5 between Turkey and Russia, to prevent the military escalation in the region.

The statement said many of those who live in camps do so in poor health conditions, and it underlined that 6.5 million Syrians have been internally displaced, and more than 5.6 million have fled Syria since 2011.

According to a running data by US-based Johns Hopkins University, Syria has at least 29 coronavirus cases and two deaths as of Tuesday, but human rights activists warn the virus could sweep conflict-hit areas.

In late March, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in Syria are just the “tip of the iceberg” of an outbreak that could have a “devastating impact” on the war-ravaged country.

Syria has been in civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

Hundreds of thousands have been killed and more than 10 million displaced in the past nine years, according to UN officials.

Recently, human rights groups have expressed deep concern that the lack of transparency maintained by the Syrian government regarding the pandemic will result in a catastrophic situation in displacement camps, at a time when the deadly virus continues to claim the lives of thousands of people across the globe.

There are mounting fears that coronavirus could spread quickly in jails and in overcrowded displacement camps, where neither hygiene kit nor medical equipment are accessible.

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