Principal Investigator: Dr Jason Hart (University of Bath)
This Research Snapshot summarises findings from a study in refugee camps in Gaza, exploring how communities responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of public health measures designed to mitigate infection spread. The study also examined access to health services and protection concerns.
This research sought to address the lack of evidence surrounding how refugee camp communities responded to public health directives established in response to COVID-19 in Gaza. The project explored the consequences of a ‘stay at home’ policy, among others, in this context of densely overcrowded communities that are under threat of conflict-related violence, where water is scarce, and where access to protective equipment such as masks very limited. To the best of the research team’s knowledge, this was the first study of the social and behavioural aspects of COVID-19 in refugee camps in the Middle East.
The project was conceptualised with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), as the main health, education and sanitation service provider in the camps.
"It is critical to understand how communities living in protracted displacement are managing COVID-19, particularly given that the pandemic is compounded in this context by the on-going Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip. This research will enable community perspectives surrounding the social and political life of COVID-19 to be at the core of the evolving humanitarian response to the crisis."
The research findings led the team to make the following recommendations:
The findings of this research are directly informing the evolving COVID-19 response in Palestinian refugee camps. The following outputs will be produced to support this:
Dr Mohammed Alruzzi a Research Associate at the University of Bath reflects on the dual challenge of COVID-19 and the blockade in accessing research participants in Gaza. Through engaging local community organisations, and creative use of WhatsApp, Skype, telephone calls and diary writing the community were successfully engaged in this research.View
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