Two years since the end of the war with the Islamic State group, more than 1.3 million people in Iraq are still displaced from their homes and are now extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 due to overcrowded and unhygienic living conditions, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned today.
"Internally displaced people in Iraq have been suffering for years, living in precarious and often cramped formal and informal camps," said Gul Badshah, MSF head of mission in Iraq. "There have been the first confirmed COVID-19 cases in a few internal displacement camps in Iraq, including where MSF works in Laylan camp near Kirkuk. While there have not been more confirmed cases for now, we are still worried about the impact COVID-19 will have on the most vulnerable people inside the camps, especially given the difficulty for people to take self-protective measures."
MSF is responding to the emergence of a COVID-19 case in Laylan camp by setting up a 20-bed isolation and treatment facility. MSF is also implementing triage for COVID-19 at MSF's clinic in Laylan and raising awareness about prevention measures. However, due to the cramped and unhygienic conditions in the camps, it is almost impossible for people to take measures such as physical distancing and the isolation of suspect cases.