By Neville Mesumbe
BUEA, Cameroon- The International Rescue Committee, IRC, has cautioned that the effects of COVID-19 may be disastrous in Regions such as the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon if nothing is done to mitigate its spread.
The aforementioned Regions have been plagued by armed conflict since 2016. This has resulted in the displacement of many people. Some are currently taking refuge in neighbouring countries like Nigeria, while others have sought safe havens in bushes that are void of hospitals, medical personnel, sanitary tissues, and potable water.
According to Cameroon’s Director of International Rescue Committee, Hannah Gibbin, the pandemic poses a serious threat to such individuals. “…With almost four million people in need of humanitarian aid in Cameroon and the highest COVID-19 caseload country across the Sahel and East Africa, this pandemic poses increased danger to people already suffering terrible violence.”
Enumerating the challenges faced by the refugees, Gibbin articulated that most of the refugees are living in crowded conditions, unable to maintain physical distancing.
“The refugees and people displaced from their homes do not have the luxury of social distancing and practicing proper hygiene and sanitation.”
This increases the chances of the pandemic to spread from one person to another.
Before the outbreak of the COVD-19 in Cameroon, Gibbin went on, 2.5 million people were already in need of urgent medical care, worse still, the health system is ill-prepared to handle a rapid escalation pandemic despite the measures put in place by the Government and its partners.
To overcome the envisaged threats posed by COVID-19 to the crisis-hit Regions, the IRC Director said the association needs a rapid scale-up of funding to help mitigate its spread.
“With the right resources, we can improve access to water and sanitation services, inform the community how best to protect themselves and reinforce proper infection prevention and control. People living in conflict regions are in need of our support, and we must do everything we can to ensure this disease does not compound their suffering,” the IRC Director said.
It should be noted that the IRC has launched an appeal of over 18 billion that will help the organisation mitigate the spread of Coronavirus among the world’s most vulnerable populations.
The organisation’s focus is to mitigate and respond to the spread of Coronavirus within vulnerable communities; protect IRC staff; and ensure the continuation of life-saving programming across 40 countries worldwide.