Norwegian Refugee Council’s Country Director in Somalia, Vitor Moses, has said that the coronavirus pandemic is not just a health challenge, but also an economic juggernaut that has displaced people, put them at risk of contracting the virus.
Moses said “For countries like Somalia, Covid-19 isn’t just a health crisis, it’s an economic juggernaut. Even before the outbreak gathers speed, people are feeling the pinch of inflation, widespread job losses, and fear that measures to contain the spread of the virus will have an equal or even more detrimental impact on their survival than the pandemic itself.”
He added that “2.6 million people in Somalia have already been displaced by conflict or climatic shocks. How do we ask millions of people to ‘stay at home’ and wash your hands when they live in congested makeshift shelters and ration meagre water supplies each day? How can we encourage social isolation when people rely on daily wage labour to meet their basic needs?”
He further stated that “Like many countries in this region, Somalia is resilient and resourceful, but it cannot be left to contend with this crisis alone. For the global community to take hold of a global problem, we must find and fund fitting global solutions.”
A displaced mother who is also worried about the spread of the virus said, “We have nowhere to escape the virus and we have no way to control it. There’s a scarcity of water in the camp. Bottled water is expensive. We used to buy it for almost $2 but it is now sold at $3. We have no soap to wash or disinfectant, we have nothing.”
As of Monday, April 20, Somalia has confirmed 164 cases of Covid-19 and seven deaths and is braced for the widespread impact of the virus, particularly on more than 2.15 million with insufficient shelter, and 2.7 million without adequate access to water and sanitation facilities.
As the Covid-19 pandemic takes hold in Somalia, government agencies, with support from humanitarian and development actors, have made considerable efforts to contain the risk of virus-spread in the country.
Border closures, curfews, restrictions on gatherings and quarantine measures have all sought to limit movement while mass messaging by mobile phone, radio, social media and through influential community leaders has focused on handwashing, hygiene and social distancing practices.