Nairobi, 26 June, 2020 / 11:00 pm (ACI Africa).
The leadership of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has, in an interview with ACI Africa, outlined how the personnel of the Catholic agency are keeping refugees in West Africa and the Great Lakes regions safe amid COVID-19 pandemic, which has worsened the already existing challenges.
In the June 26 interview, JRS officials acknowledge that due to COVID-19, they have had “to adapt their activities to unsteady and new contexts” in a bid to keep refugees in Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR), Eastern Cameroon, Nigeria, Burundi, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) safe.
“Since JRS teams were forced to reduce their mobility and presence in the field, JRS staff within the communities and local leaders became focal points between the organization and the people served,” the officials told ACI Africa, adding, “Thanks to this strategy, JRS could monitor the communities and intervene as required.”
The closure of education facilities and psychosocial centers due to the pandemic has left many children in the African countries exposed to child labor, armed recruitment, and other kinds of exploitation, with the risk of Sexual Gender-Based Violence towards girls and women rising, the West Africa-based JRS officials further say.