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Preventing the spread of Covid-19 among Syrian refugees and IDPs

30 March 2020

Bousla for Training and Innovation trains Syrian refugees and displaced people in Turkey and north-west Syria. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, it has launched an awareness-raising campaign to combat the spread of the virus among these vulnerable populations.

Preventing the spread of Covid-19 among Syrian refugees and IDPs

“Syrian refugees have experienced almost all kinds of suffering,” says Hadi Attar, Program Officer of EED grantee Bousla. “Bombings, war, the loss of family members, the loss of their property, displacement, and finally, a global pandemic has come. It’s a catastrophe for them.”


Based in the Turkish border town of Gaziantep, Bousla works with Syrian refugees in Turkey as well as displaced people within Syria. Normally they work on training and capacity-building projects for Syrian refugees and displaced people, but the global health emergency is forcing them to take urgent action to raise awareness among Syrian communities on how they can protect themselves from Covid-19.

Turkey has already taken stringent measures to reduce the spread of the virus, including closing restaurants and cafés, implementing strict protocols for accessing banks and other institutions, and encouraging people to work from home where possible.

Refugees still working

All of the Syrian refugees in Turkey are still working,” explains Attar. “If they do not work, they have no money and they can’t pay their rent and buy food for their families.” In such circumstances, the focus is on making sure refugees understand what preventative measures they can take and how to identify symptoms of the virus.

“If they do not work, they have no money and they can’t pay their rent and buy food for their families.”

Bousla has joined forces with the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) to put together an online awareness raising initiative, using social media such as Facebook and Instagram to put across key health messages.

Debilitated medical services

Attar admits that within Syria, the situation is much worse. Years of conflict have debilitated medical services and capacity is severely limited ,in particular in the north-west of the country where Bousla operates. There is just one testing facility in the area and very limited supplies. So far, there is no reliable data on the extent of the spread of the virus in the country. Prevention and isolation of those infected is therefore of the utmost importance.

Bousla is also working on plans to distribute printed information materials in North West Syria as well as basic medical equipment such as gloves, masks and disinfectants. They are small measures but in the absence of critical medical services, they could mean the difference between life and death.


Some training materials developed by Bousla:

A video detailing how to protect yourself from Covid-19

A video explaining the Covid-19 virus

A 9-day training course delivered overall WhatsApp:

A live broadcast with Dr Mahmoud Barakat on Covid-19


By Sarah Crozier

EED will be featuring a series of stories over the next period about how our grantees are adapting their work to reflect the Covid-19 pandemic.

Disclaimer: This article reflects the views of the grantee(s) featured and does not necessarily represent official opinion of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED).

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