AJWS and Our Partners Respond: Learn the Latest
Updated Week of June 1
- UGANDA: After 19 LGBTQI+ youth were violently arrested, imprisoned and charged with spreading COVID-19, legal aid collective HRAPF fought tirelessly for their release. After 52 days, all 19 were released and all charges dropped.
- GUATEMALA: AJWS grantee Otra Guatemala Ya organized a socially-distanced protest to demand that the government halt a bill that would limit workers rights. Soon after, the bill was retracted.
- MEXICO: In Oaxaca, road closures due to the lockdown have caused major food shortages. UCIZONI has distributed critical food aid and protective equipment to over 7,000 people in 30 different villages.
COVID-19 Threatens the Communities AJWS Supports in the Developing World
COVID-19 is causing displacement and death in all 19 of the countries where AJWS works—threatening the lives and livelihoods of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
And we will not abandon them.
Right now, AJWS is working with each of our 487 grantee organizations around the world to work to stop the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic is an existential threat to the vulnerable people who depend on us across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean.
AJWS is rapidly responding. We are providing:
- Critical Aid: AJWS is supporting local organizations who are distributing humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable communities, including food, soap, hand sanitizer and protective masks—as well as installing handwashing stations in densely populated areas.
- Life-saving Information: AJWS developed and distributed a toolkit for our grantees and their communities sharing internationally recognized practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19, monitor symptoms and care for sick relatives. This toolkit is now being distributed around the developing world in 10 languages, including Kreyol, Bahasa Indonesia, Burmese, Rohingya, French, Spanish, Bangla, Hindi, Nepali and English.
- Unwavering Support: As uncertainty plagues the entire world, AJWS continues to support all the organizations we work with around the world, guaranteeing a dependable source of funding through this crisis. We are listening to our grantees—shifting grants to be flexible, so they can be used to address critical needs as they arise. We are increasing our grants to partners who are fighting COVID-19 head on with material aid, and we will fund new organizations that are providing direct support to vulnerable communities.
For 35 years, AJWS has responded to major disasters and humanitarian crises, always directly supporting local organizations and trusting that communities know what is best for them. And in this time of crisis, we are standing with our partners as they lead the way to protect their communities.
For Communities AJWS Serves, New Challenges Arise Amid the Pandemic
COVID-19 threatens every community we serve. In many places, it is nearly impossible for local people to take shelter and distance physically from others. In areas with crowded housing, poor sanitation, limited medical infrastructure and high economic insecurity, the effects of this crisis will be catastrophic.
For so many of the communities AJWS serves, COVID-19 is introducing a new danger to an existence already filled with poverty, oppression, and inequality. Based on our work in past crises, we know the dire toll this pandemic will have on the vulnerable communities where we work—a toll compounded by the virus itself.
The communities we support are likely to face, or are already facing:
- A loss of the most basic needs without a safety net: Vulnerable people may lose their housing, food and healthcare when they or a family member become ill, are placed in quarantine and can no longer work.
- Discrimination based on nationality, refugee status, sexuality and gender identity: Marginalized people may be barred from hospitals, experience harassment or physical violence, or become the victims of discriminatory laws passed by their governments under the guise of containing the pandemic.
- Ineffective health systems and unequal access to healthcare: The pandemic will likely exacerbate pre-existing barriers to care for women and girls, refugees, sex workers and others seeking healthcare.
- An utter lack of government transparency and information about the virus: Misinformation spread by governments and lack of reliable information will prevent marginalized populations from educating themselves and keeping themselves safe.
- Sweeping roll-backs of human rights protections: Governments will likely undermine human rights as they take severe steps to limit the virus’s spread. These setbacks are likely to persist long into the future.