Leaving No One Behind: UNODC Regional Response to COVID-19

28 May 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic is currently affecting all our lives. UNODC is supporting Member States in addressing this virus through direct assistance and through examining and addressing the new waves of crime that maybe exploiting this pandemic. At UNODC, we are working to ensure that we are there for those most in need and to serve people who use drugs and with drug use disorders, people and children in closed settings such as prisons, frontline officers, health care and social workers, daily workers, migrant workers and refugees. Recently UNODC has provided direct assistance in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Palestine and Tunisia.

Through support from UNODC and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Algeria and three Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) delivered Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and SIM cards. The material will protect 100 frontliners, namely health and social workers, from COVID-19 as they ensure continuum of services for approximately 908 people who use drugs for three months in the cities of Oran, Annaba and Algiers.

Similarly, aiming to protect frontlines as they provide necessary care to many, UNODC supported the Egyptian Forensic Medical Authority with PPEs and necessary sanitary material to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during examinations and operations in Egypt. 

UNODC also provided the Forensic Medicine Unit of the Charles Nicolle Hospital in Tunisia with PPEs, including shoe-covers, chemical protective coverall, gloves and filtering facepiece masks (FFP2) through the forensic project in Tunisia funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) - USA.

In Jordan, UNODC focused its efforts on standing with families, daily workers, migrant workers and refugees in these challenging times and providing them with medical supplies and food packages. Furthermore, UNODC provided front-line officers operating in the field with necessary medical supplies. Support was in coordination with the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Social Development, Prosecution Office and the different departments at the Public Security Directorate (PSD) and was funded by Austria, the European Union (EU) and Sweden.

A number of people could be at particular risk of infection, especially when they live close together, with a high potential for transmission. Places of deprivation of liberty, for example prisons, undoubtedly constitute high-risk environments for those who live and work there. In Libya, UNODC delivered a COVID-19 awareness workshop to judicial police management at the Centre of Endemic and Infectious Diseases and Prevention, focusing COVID19 prevention and control measures such as specific risk assessments and contingency plans; enhanced hygiene and infection control measures; the uninterrupted availability of relevant supplies, including PPEs; close linkages with local and national public health authorities; as well as support and capacity building for prison staff and health-care professionals.

Further echoing the need to support those within closed settings, UNODC in Palestine has worked with the Correction and Rehabilitation Centres Directorate (CRCD) to utilize and disseminate health awareness posters and flyers within the centres and to allow for the outside time to and the library time to continue through social distancing measures of having fewer inmates at each allotted session.  This action was supported by the Doha Declaration Programme.

This story is part of many stories reflecting our efforts, follow UNODC ROMENA dedicated COVID19 updates webpage to know more about UNODC regional action in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to support Member States’ response to the pandemic.  

For More Information:

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) - UNODC ROMENA Updates

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on trafficking in persons 

How COVID-19 restrictions and the economic consequences are likely to impact migrant smuggling and cross-border trafficking in persons to Europe and North America