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09.06.2021 - Press releases

COVID-19: Preserving humanitarian access

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting humanitarian aid and hampering access to populations. While needs continue to grow, access to basic services is critical in most developing countries. Armed conflicts exacerbate the difficulties and reinforce the isolation of the children most at risk. Terre des hommes is concerned about the worsening situation.

For a year now, COVID-19 has been reinforcing existing vulnerabilities and creating new ones. In the field, Terre des hommes (Tdh) observes that the pandemic is cutting children's access to education and exposing them to an increased risk of violence, neglect and abuse.

"The major challenge today is to access vulnerable populations in a critical epidemiological environment, where the danger is sometimes exacerbated by armed conflict. The restrictions on movement, the difficulties of supply and the risks to children, their families and our teams are worrying", warns Claudio Rini, Director of Operations at Tdh.

In many contexts where Tdh is present, such as in the Sahel region or in Afghanistan, the security situation has deteriorated and access to basic services is critical. The number of families and children forced to move is increasing. These population movements increase the risk of dissemination and transmission of the virus. This situation complicates the work of humanitarian workers and local partners, who are sometimes directly targeted by armed groups.

In this tense context, we are very concerned for pregnant women who can no longer access health centres for sanitary or security reasons, and for newborns, whose vulnerability is particularly high in the first days of life and who are no longer monitored regularly.

The pandemic has also worsened the situation in detention centres. "In Burundi, Guinea-Conakry, Mali and Mauritania, we are concerned about overcrowding in prisons and the limited access of children in detention to their families. Their mental health is deteriorating alarmingly", adds Claudio Rini.

The state of alert is high on all fronts. In Africa, only 1.7% of the population is vaccinated. For example, Burkina Faso only received 115,000 doses for 20 million inhabitants ten days ago.

Tdh is mobilising against COVID-19. Find more information on our activities in the annual report 2020: www.tdh.ch/annual-report