COVID-19: LWF World Service calls for donations

At the river nearby the Burka Dare site for Internally Displaced People in Oromia, Ethiopia. The Lutheran World Federation supports internally displaced people in several regions of Ethiopia, through water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

Protect vulnerable communities and staff in refugee camps

(LWI) - In light of the worldwide Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) humanitarian arm World Service is calling for donations to mitigate the effects in the communities it serves, and to protect staff from infection and spreading the virus.

“Our main concern are the people we serve. We are well-known for working closely with communities,” said Chey Mattner,  LWF World Service Head of Operations. LWF country programs are currently introducing additional prevention measures through their water, sanitation and hygiene work in those communities."

"Window of opportunity"

Since the outbreak started in Asia, LWF country programs have conducted sensitization campaigns with remote and vulnerable communities in Nepal, Myanmar and Laos, educating about the virus and proper hygiene, such as hand-washing.  As the first cases of COVID-19 are being reported from the African continent, a key concern is to slow down its spreading in the refugee camps, which are inhabited by many vulnerable people, and to support remote communities that have little access to medical aid. "We have a window of opportunity now to ensure COVID-19 does not reach the vulnerable communities with whom we work. It’s critical now to minimize the chances of our own staff being infected, especially those who are working in highly vulnerable and densely populated communities such as camps for refugees and the internally displaced. It’s in these situations particularly where medical facilities are poor and where people are forbidden to leave to find other treatment", Mattner adds.

Heightened water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) measures will be mainstreamed in all LWF programs, many of whom are already managing the WASH sector in refugee camps and vulnerable communities, Mattner emphasizes. In any response, water and sanitation will be a central aspect. Additional funds are needed above all to supply people with soap and clean water, but also for training and hygiene awareness.

Difficult situation in the Middle-East

The situation has already become extremely difficult in the middle East. Apart from additional needs at the Augusta Victoria Hospital, movement restrictions prevent medical staff and patients at Augusta Victoria hospital from going back home, thus making it necessary to house them on the hospital campus. LWF has also conducted information campaigns and produced videos about COVID-19 in Arabic, as there is a lack of information for the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem.

In Jordan, LWF together with UNHCR is preparing to distribute hand sanitizer to the people living in Za’atari refugee camp, Jordan.

"Should the virus enter our country programs at the same speed it has entered Europe, we fear the consequences will be much more severe. Your funds will help us to better prepare communities through targeted activities in water, sanitation and hygiene," Mattner says.





All donations will exclusively be used to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on LWF beneficiaries and staff. Through its humanitarian and development arm World Service the LWF works in 28 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.