With COVID-19 spreading rapidly through Pakistan which has seen more than 180,000 confirmed cases, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is calling for support to mitigate the spread amongst Afghan refugees and other vulnerable communities.
Pakistan has seen a 257% increase in confirmed cases in the last month and is now recording its highest daily death rate. The IRC is strengthening health systems in Pakistan to help mitigate the spread among Afghan refugees as they face the health and economic impacts of the pandemic amidst deteriorating living conditions.
Adnan bin Junaid, Pakistan Country Director at the IRC said, “The country is home to more than 1.5 million Afghan refugees… who mostly live in overcrowded homes with poor access to water and sanitation, making it nearly impossible for these people to socially distance and protect themselves from the disease.”
He pointed that these people may have compromised immune systems as their face severe food insecurity. “COVID-19 restrictions have impacted access to food for Afghan refugees, leaving them hungry and putting their lives at risk,” Junaid said.
The problem is compounded because refugees have severely limited access to healthcare with one doctor for every 963 people.
The IRC is working with national and regional health and disaster management departments of the government, but still the conditions have worsened with the spike in infections.
They have launched a US $30 million appeal to help mitigate the spread of Coronavirus within the vulnerable population.