COVID-19 Response: Shielding The Most Vulnerable

June 19, 2020

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The coronavirus pandemic is now reaching communities already facing the impacts of violence and armed conflict. Through our emergency response War Child is taking every action to stop the spread of the virus and meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and communities. Learn more about our efforts as we enter the next phase.

“Our efforts during this emergency aim to ensure no child is left behind”, says War Child Holland managing director Tjipke Bergsma. “That means stepping up our response to meet the needs of the most vulnerable communities wherever we are present - the children and families in refugee camps who simply cannot exercise physical distancing, the countries where political tensions are already at boiling point.”

Shifting gears

War Child rapidly adapted our activities to help shield children and communities from the worst of the pandemic. Raising awareness on personal protection proved to be an effective first line of defence. In South-Sudan, for example, we took our message to the heart of communities - with the help of local artists such as Check-B Magic. These messages - covering public health, good hygiene and emotional care - were broadcast on local radio stations and shared through mobile sound-systems in refugee settlements.

Remote support

We also tested and piloted remote delivery of interventions by harnessing digital media and messaging channels - everything from telephone to radio to Skype and Whatsapp. We will continue to provide vital psychosocial support and education to children via these means. Children and parents who are no longer able to access our centres and safe spaces can use a safe online reporting system to check in with us and let us know how they are doing.

War Child is accelerating the developments of remote education through our flagship Can’t Wait to Learn programme. We will also continue to provide vital psychosocial support through TeamUp - both through the resumption of regular activities and our new TeamUp at Home programme. Through innovative methods like these, War Child has been able to reach over 3.3 million people to date.

Maintaining momentum

Three months on, the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. Even as restrictions are being lifted in Europe, it is still making headway to communities in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The next wave is not a question of if, but when.

To sustain our efforts, War Child set up a COVID-19 emergency response StartUp fund to support countries and teams to kick start and further their emergency response. We have successfully disbursed over €544,000. Turnaround time to process requests are 72 hours. The StartUp fund became reality thanks to the generosity of our friends and donors. The emergency fundraising campaign ‘Do not let corona be their next war’ raised over €430,000 in private donations in just six weeks.

What next?

According to War Child Holland humanitarian director Unni Krishnan, the ability to learn from our own experiences - and from others - is vital to ensuring that we are better prepared to address the next phase and future waves of the crisis. “This is an evolving crisis, but we are beginning to see patterns,” he explains. “We need to act now to strengthen certain elements of our programmes and make them more agile. Preparing communities ahead of time is absolutely critical.”

Read our Progress Report for a full overview of our plans in the months ahead.