IASC, Global Protection Cluster, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present an array of challenges, forcing nearly all types of basic service delivery – including, but not limited to, humanitarian response – to drastically adapt. Given how quickly the outbreak continues to evolve; the variation across contexts in the impact of the disease and the measures being implemented to control its spread; and the lack of documented good practice for delivering aid and services under such conditions, to a large extent the entire international system is learning as we go. As such, this document presents an initial summary of potential GBV risk mitigation actions, based on established good practice, that are starting points to address GBV risks in this unprecedented situation. The GBV risk mitigation actions summarized below are presented in the spirit of collective and iterative problem-solving.
COVID-19 Operational Guidance Note: Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) within Health Programs
International Rescue Committee, 2020
This guidance summarizes the key actions for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS)
within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We anticipate that pre-existing mental health
conditions will be exacerbated, and that new mental health problems will be induced by the COVID19 pandemic. This will occur in countries where IRC has ongoing MHPSS programming, and also in countries where IRC programs does not have dedicated mental health services and supports. We have outlined how to support continuity of existing MHPSS service and anticipate how to adapt programs based on the increased demand for MHPSS. All MHPSS plans should be coordinated with other sectors and other partners implementing MHPSS activities.
This guidance note is for MHPSS linked to the health system. There will be separate – but
complementary – guidance notes for MHPSS interventions that are implemented through VPRU,
Education and ERD programs.
Human Rights Watch, 2020
International human rights law guarantees everyone the right to the highest attainable standard of health and obligates governments to take steps to prevent threats to public health and to provide medical care to those who need it. Human rights law also recognizes that in the context of serious public health threats and public emergencies threatening the life of the nation, restrictions on some rights can be justified when they have a legal basis, are strictly necessary, based on scientific evidence and neither arbitrary nor discriminatory in application, of limited duration, respectful of human dignity, subject to review, and proportionate to achieve the objective.
The scale and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic clearly rises to the level of a public health threat that could justify restrictions on certain rights, such as those that result from the imposition of quarantine or isolation limiting freedom of movement. At the same time, careful attention to human rights such as non-discrimination and human rights principles such as transparency and respect for human dignity can foster an effective response amidst the turmoil and disruption that inevitably results in times of crisis and limit the harms that can come from the imposition of overly broad measures that do not meet the above criteria.
This document provides an overview of human rights concerns posed by the coronavirus outbreak, drawing on examples of government responses to date, and recommends ways governments and other actors can respect human rights in their response.
UNICEF, WHO, IFRC, 2020
The purpose of this document is to provide clear and actionable guidance for safe operations through the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19 in schools and other educational facilities. The guidance, while specific to countries that have already confirmed the transmission of COVID-19, is still relevant in all other contexts. Education can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school, and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread of viruses. Maintaining safe school operations or reopening schools after a closure requires many considerations but, if done well, can promote public health.
The document includes facts on COVID-19, information to school administrators, teachers and staff, parents/caregivers and community members as well as on age-specific health education with the aim to promote safe and healthy schools.
United Nations Coordinated Appeal, 2020
COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on all countries, both in terms of prompting the scaling of public health preparedness and response and protection of vulnerable populations, and in terms of requiring mitigation of broader social and economic impacts. While all countries need to respond to COVID-19, those with existing humanitarian crises are particularly vulnerable, and less equipped and able to do so. Humanitarian needs may also occur in other countries as a result of excessive pressure on health systems and the overall delivery of essential services, as well as secondary effects on employment, the economy and mobility, the rule of law, protection of human rights, and possible social discontent and unrest.
“The world is only as strong as the weakest health system. This COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan aims to enable us to fight the virus in the world’s poorest countries, and address the needs of the most vulnerable people.” – António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Gender Based Violence AoR, Gender in Humanitarian Action, 2020
In this briefing note you can find information about emerging gender impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as well as recommendations as to how to respond in a gender sensitive way. The first six recommendations are (please open the link to see the full list of recommendations):
- Disaggregate data related to the outbreak by sex, age, and disability
- Country strategic plans for preparedness and response must be grounded in strong gender analysis, taking into account gendered roles, responsibilities, and dynamics
- Strengthen the leadership and meaningful participation of women and girls in all decision-making
processes in addressing the COVID-19 outbreak
- Ensure that women are able to get information about how to prevent and respond to the epidemic in ways they can understand
- Ensure human rights are central to the response
- First responders must be trained on how to handle disclosures of GBV
Elin Doeland, 2019
In the work of making resources on mental health more easily available to professionals and others working with people exposed to human rights violations in disaster, war and conflict, Health and Human Rights Info (HHRI) has received contributions and support from a large group of people. Since its beginning in the early 2000s, psychologists and psychiatrists and other professionals working in different contexts around the world have been involved in ensuring that the material in the database may be of use in the field and has a good ethical and professional standard.
The sensitive nature of research on VAW requires special ethical and safety considerations. For example, how can researchers safely approach selection, recruitment and follow-up of participants in a study to evaluate the outcomes and impacts of an intervention to prevent violence? How do researchers address randomization of participants into control or intervention arms? How do researchers monitor and manage risk of violence from participation in the intervention? And what additional protections should be put in place when the research involves populations requiring special considerations, such as pregnant women?
Syrian mental health professionals as refugees in Jordan: establishing mental health services for fellow refugees
Abo-Hilal, Mohammad; Hoogstad, Mathijs
While the conflict in Syria rages on, one psychiatrist and several psychologists, all of them Syrian refugees, have founded Syria Bright Future, a volunteer organisation that provides psychosocial and mental health services to Syrian refugees in Jordan. This field report describes how the organisation assists families in settling after their harsh journey, in adapting to new living conditions and circumstances, coping with difficulties they encounter and strengthening their resilience. Syria Bright Future does this by providing short term support and counselling, and by referring individuals and families to other international and Jordanian organisations, or to informal support networks of Syrian refugees for further assistance.
Srinivasa Murthy and Lakshminarayana
In humanitarian emergencies and conflict situations psychological damage has traditionally not been addressed, its extent and impact have not been well studied. It is only through a greater focus of mental health problems as a result of war and conflict, can coherent and effective strategies for dealing with such problems be developed.