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Find Out Where and How Relief International is Responding to COVID-19 Pandemic

Refugees, families displaced from their homes, and the people we serve in the world’s most fragile settings will be hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has officially reached all of the sixteen countries where Relief International works. Our teams are on the frontline every day, responding to outbreaks in the world’s most fragile settings.


Get live updates on our COVID-19 response
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Live Updates: Go Inside Relief International’s Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

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Live Updates: Go Inside Relief International’s Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread globally, we know that refugees, families displaced from their homes, and the people we serve in the world’s most fragile settings will be hit hardest by this outbreak.

The virus has officially reached all of the sixteen countries where Relief International works, and we are ramping up our response to COVID-19 in these fragile settings, including Iran, Syria and Yemen. Our teams are on the frontline every day.

You can donate to support our work in the world’s most fragile settings here.

Read the latest live updates on our COVID-19 response here:

  • AFGHANISTAN: Before the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Afghanistan on February 24, our teams on the ground were already ramping up our response. Four months later, the vast majority of cases of COVID-19 are going untested and unreported. Relief International’s Deputy Country Director for Health and Nutrition, Dr. Hekmat oversees our work in Farah and Nimroz provinces in western Afghanistan, near the border with Iran. Read his latest update on our response to the unfolding crisis.
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Dr. Hikmatullah Zadran meets with medical staff at one of Relief International's health clinics in Afghanistan.

© RI/ Sandra Calligaro

  • SOUTH SUDAN: The country continues to be gripped by conflict and hunger, and now the novel coronavirus. Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, we have been ramping up our response to prevent the spread of the virus in remote areas. Below, our health team in Maiwut sets up a screening area for patients with possible symptoms.
  • SOMALIA: Few countries are less prepared for a COVID-19 outbreak than Somalia. We are continuing to provide vital healthcare services at ten facilities located in high risk areas. Pictured here, Relief International staff use an infrared thermometer to check a patient’s temperature during a visit to a health facility in Hiraan, Somalia. Read our latest project update here.
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Relief International staff uses an infrared thermometer to check a patient's temperature during a visit to a health facility in Hiraan, Somalia.

© RI

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Relief International discharges first ten patients from COVID-19 center in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

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Relief International discharges first ten patients from COVID-19 center in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

On June 15, Relief International health workers celebrate the first ten recovered patients to be discharged from our COVID-19 center in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

  • SUDAN: Equipped with masks and gloves, community health workers trained by Relief International are going door-to-door to share information on COVID-19 with refugees, families displaced from their homes, and local Sudanese families living in Blue Nile State.
  • TURKEY: While our physical rehabilitation centers remain closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, our staff are using telehealth to conduct physical therapy sessions online to help patients recover from their injuries. “I show the patients various body movements and ask them to repeat them in front of the camera,” shares Relief International’s physiotherapist Riad Almasri. “Sometimes I send videos showing the physical movements, and we do them together.”
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While our centers remain closed as a result of COVID-19, Relief International physiotherapist Riad Almasri conducts a virtual physical therapy session.

© RI

  • COX’S BAZAR: Just weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed, the Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar has reported more than 700 new cases, including nearly 30 in the world’s largest refugee camp. The camp is more densely populated than some of the world’s busiest cities, heightening fears for a catastrophic outbreak of the deadly virus. As the number of infections continue to rise, Relief International has received its first 25 patients at our new isolation and treatment center, providing both Rohingya refugees and local Bangladeshis with potentially life-saving care. Read our latest statement here.
  • IRAN: Relief International’s Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant Azadeh Shafiei, pictured below, shares information about hand washing as she distributes hand sanitizer to men, women, and children living in an Afghan refugee settlement in Iran’s Yazd province. This information is critical for protecting families in already vulnerable situations against COVID-19.
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Relief International's Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant Azadeh Shafiei explains the importance of hand washing as a preventative measure against COVID-19.

© RI

  • BANGLADESH: On May 20, Cyclone Amphan, one of the fiercest cyclones to make landfall in Bangladesh, tore through the country’s Sundarbans Mangrove Forest. Shortly after the forest was declared an UNESCO World Heritage site, Relief International began supporting local artisans as they work to establish themselves as one of Bangladesh’s top eco-tourism destinations. This latest disaster will be devastating for the people we serve in the Sundarbans region who have long relied on the forest for their lives and livelihoods.
  • COX’S BAZAR: One week after the first confirmed case, Relief International opened our 144-bed isolation and treatment center for Rohingya refugees and local Bangladeshis who have tested positive for COVID-19. Pictured here, our staff take a tour of the center for the first time.

PHOTO GALLERY

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Relief International staff on the ground gather ahead of the opening of our 144-bed isolation and treatment center in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. It is the largest center of its kind in Cox's Bazar.
On May 19, our teams take a tour of the center for the first time.
Relief International staff in Cox's Bazar prepare to receive patients at our brand new isolation and treatment center. The center is designated for COVID-19 patients with severe complications.
A sign displayed inside Relief International's isolation and treatment center in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.
  • COX’S BAZAR: On May 14, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. In anticipation of a major outbreak spreading to the camp, our teams constructed a 144-bed isolation and treatment center for COVID-19 patients with serious complications. It is the largest center of its kind in Cox’s Bazar.
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Located in Cox's Bazar, Kutupalong camp is home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees. Our teams are rapidly scaling up our health programs for Rohingya refugees in order to prevent a major outbreak of COVID-19.

© RI/ Rachel Elkind

  • TURKEY: The country is home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many refugees have lost their jobs—and only means of supporting their families—as the country orders a strict lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. Our teams on the ground are working to continue supporting our patients, many of whom are living with war-related injuries, by delivering care packages filled with food to refugees’ homes.
  • IRAN: On May 11, Relief International’s Country Director for Iran Olivier Vandecasteele shared an update on our response to the major coronavirus outbreak unfolding inside the country. Watch his video message below:
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Message from Olivier Vandecasteele, Iran Country Director: COVID-19 Update, May 11

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Message from Olivier Vandecasteele, Iran Country Director: COVID-19 Update, May 11

Watch this short two-minute update from Relief International’s Country Director for Iran Olivier Vandecasteele on our response to one of the world’s largest outbreaks of COVID-19.

  • SOUTH SUDAN: Relief International is one of the largest providers of healthcare in South Sudan. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have opened six new health clinics to support refugees living in Upper Nile State. We are also training our health staff to recognize COVID-19 symptoms and refer these patients for isolation and treatment.
  • PAKISTAN: Our teams are working hard to continue providing life-saving aid safely. We are working with Afghan refugees living in Peshawar who will be hardest hit by COVID-19. Last week, families stood six feet apart as they received hygiene kits filled with soap, hand sanitizer, and masks.
  • GLOBAL: On April 23, Relief International’s CEO Nancy E. Wilson provided an update to supporters on our responses to COVID-19 in the fragile settings where we work, including Iran, Afghanistan, and Jordan. Watch her video message now:
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Message from CEO, Nancy Wilson: COVID-19 Update, April 23

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Message from CEO, Nancy Wilson: COVID-19 Update, April 23

Relief International’s CEO Nancy Wilson provides an update on the impact of COVID-19 in the lives of the people we serve in the world’s most fragile settings.

  • YEMEN: On April 10, Yemen confirmed its first case of COVID-19. Hospitals and clinics inside the country have been destroyed or damaged by the country’s ongoing civil war. Other remaining health facilities are severely under-resourced, suffering from shortages of essential drugs, medical staff, and basic equipment like incubators. Our teams on the ground are working to strengthen infection prevention and control measures in preparation for a major outbreak of COVID-19.
  • PHILIPPINES: During the coronavirus pandemic, the Philippines is also struggling to contain an outbreak of polio. Below, our teams in the Philippines provide information to families on the island of Mindanao about how to protect themselves against both viruses.
  • SOMALIA: Last year, families living in Somalia’s Hiraan region experienced the worst flooding in recent history following the seasonal Deyr rains. Now, they are struggling to rebuild their lives amidst a global pandemic. Our teams on the ground are providing hygiene kits to families at the greatest risk of contracting the virus. We are also working in villages throughout the region to teach families how to best protect themselves against COVID-19 through hand washing and social distancing measures.
  • AFGHANISTAN: It is clear that the coronavirus doesn’t respect borders or boundaries. We have set up screening points along Afghanistan’s border with Iran to identify patients with symptoms of COVID-19.
  • IRAN: Amidst a global shortage, our teams in Iran are working nonstop to import personal protective equipment, or PPEs, to protect nurses, doctors, and health workers working to treat patients. Below, our teams unpack a box filled with gloves, goggles, masks, and a full-body protective suit.
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A shipment of personal protective equipment arrives at a warehouse in Tehran, Iran.

© RI

  • MYANMAR: Handwashing is essential for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. In Myanmar’s Rakhine State, we have established handwashing stations in four townships.
  • IRAN: It is crucial to test people for coronavirus. Our teams in Iran have worked nonstop to import 40,000 diagnostic kits to test patients for the virus.
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A staff member delivers coronavirus testing kits to a lab in Tehran, Iran.

© RI

  • SYRIA: On March 23, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Syria. In one of the most challenging contexts in the world, Relief International is preparing our health facilities to handle an influx of COVID-19 cases by purchasing supplies, including pharmaceuticals, PPEs, and other medical supplies.
  • JORDAN: On March 18, Jordan went into mandatory lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But, our teams are adapting our education programs to online learning so that our Syrian refugee students do not have to put their educations on hold, yet again.
  • GLOBAL: On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic.
  • IRAN: The country has quickly become a regional epicenter for COVID-19. On March 2, our teams received our first shipment of goggles, gloves, and masks for frontline health workers.
  • IRAN: On February 19, the country reported its first case of COVID-19. Our teams are working nonstop to purchase protective medical equipment for frontline health workers.