COVID Watch (2nd April 2020)


Relief for Refugees amidst Pandemic

Prime Minister Imran Khan issued orders to government authorities to allocate funds for the relief of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) during the coronavirus pandemic. The funds will be drawn from the approved Rs. 200 billion relief package for poor farmers. According to the UNHCR, there were about 1.4 million documented refugees spread across 52 camps in Pakistan by 2017. 80% of these refugees make their living through daily-wage labor. Under the restrictions imposed during lock-down, starvation is a very real threat to these refugees.

Food Supply at Risk, Experts Warn

Economists and analysts warn of an impending food crisis should the pandemic prolong. Restrictions to movement and reduced market economy due to the lock-down may adversely affect the chain of supply of foodstuffs, with perishable commodities the first to show signs of decline. While some modicum of relief may be had with Pakistan’s current storage capacities, which ensure that grain and wheat supplies are plenty to meet local demand in the near future, experts suggest the Government should not show complacency and maintain surveillance of prices and availability of foodstuffs.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Receives Ambulances from UNHCR, CAR

The UNHCR and the Commissionerate of Afghan Refugees (CAR) donated 5 ambulances for a prompt response to COVID-19 patients in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The ambulances will be used in districts in Peshawar, Swabi, Mardan, Kohat and Haripur with Afghan refugee populations and camps.

Sanitary Workers Go Unpaid

Sanitary workers of the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital in Muzaffargarh, Punjab, hold a strike against DHQ management over non-payment of nearly 4 months’ salaries. Workers announced they will no longer perform their duties if salaries are not paid. The protesters claim they cannot provide food or medicines to their families during the lockdown without any money. Local officials assured the protesters their salaries will be disbursed in 2 days.

Teachers, Government Employees to Distribute Ration

Kohat Awami Tehreek and other civil society members urged the local government to deploy teachers and on-leave government employees to distribute ration among needy in order to cover the gap in outreach. Meanwhile, traders in the region also demanded a reduction in utility bills and exemption from paying rent due to the lockdown.