Cairo (Egypt), 8 June 2020 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is supporting Member States all around the world in addressing COVID-19, through direct assistance and by examining and addressing new waves of crime related to the pandemic. In the Middle East and North Africa, 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 in Algeria and three Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) delivered Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and SIM cards to protect 100 frontline workers. The material is distributed to health and social workers, who are ensuring continuity of services for approximately 908 people who use drugs in the cities of Oran, Annaba and Algiers.
Similarly, aiming to protect front liner workers as they provide essential care, UNODC supported the Egyptian Forensic Medical Authority with PPEs and sanitary material needed 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 coveralls, gloves and filtering facepiece masks (FFP2) through the forensic project in Tunisia funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the USA.
In Jordan, UNODC focused its efforts on supporting families, day workers, migrant workers and refugees in these challenging times and provided 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 various departments at the Public Security Directorate and was funded by Austria, the European Union 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 on COVID-19 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 ‘outside time’ and ‘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.