Karama Update: COVID-19

Posted on: March 19, 2020, by :

As of Thursday 19 March, there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in nine of the countries in which the Karama network partners work. We are in close contact with all of our partner organizations, and recommend everyone follows advice from official sources such as the WHO, which makes information available in Arabic, French and English

Many countries in the region have enacted stringent measures to deal with the crisis, including restrictions on travel and movement, the closure of borders and transport hubs, as well as bans on public gatherings.

We are keeping in contact with partners, and they are all in the process of carrying out their own contingency and emergency measures, while some are providing frontline support. This is an extremely difficult and distressing time for everyone, no matter where they are.

The strength of the activists in our network comes from their deep roots in their communities. Their connection with and credibility within these communities is so important. In response, there has been much discussion about social distancing – but we must recognize this distance must only be in a physical sense. There has never been a more important time to concern ourselves with the social fabric of our communities. Our partners have an essential role to play in making sure people are informed and included in response to the crisis.

While there has been much discussion about economic impact, we must not ignore the human face of the emergency. Our societies will need to deal with the effects of fear, suffering, loss and grief. Civil society can foster the resilience of our communities, and help them rebuild. In the meantime, activists themselves need to keep their morale up and keep focus on their own physical and mental health, so they are able to serve their communities. We will be doing what we can to help them with this.

The activists we work with are so remarkable, have shown such incredible resilience, achieved so much against great odds, it would be easy to forget they are people too. We don’t take their needs for granted, and much of our recent work has been to make sure they have the tools to make their work more sustainable – personal leadership skills, wellbeing, self care. Strong, compassionate leadership is vital.

This year will see the 15th anniversary of our network. It has endured through one of the most turbulent periods in the region only because it provides something of use to our partners. They have been able to find strength through their connection with each other. It has meant activists doing remarkable work in their own communities have have been able to find lessons, seek advice, share their experience and knowledge with people they trust.

The spirit of partnership has continued and proved its value through extraordinary adversity – during violence, instability, war. The network remains committed to each other now, as always. We will work together to learn what we need and to provide what we can. 

We hope you will be keeping safe, and will join us in continuing to support the work of the activists in the Karama network. On their behalf, we thank you and wish you well.