World Refugee Day: How Airlink and its partners are helping refugees
Airlink and its aviation partners are helping bring relief to refugees by supporting highly regarded and effective disaster relief organizations working in refugee camps that are communities of hundreds of thousands of people in need. Airlink provides critical and valuable logistical support for disaster responders, as well as passenger and cargo flights from its airline partners to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
The Rohingya Refugee Crisis:
Since August 2017, more than 900,000 new refugees have entered Bangladesh. As monsoon season begins in earnest in southeast Asia, there are mounting concerns around landslides and flooding which will destroy shelters and key WASH infrastructure (e.g. latrines), as well as the potential for spread of rotavirus, dysentery, typhoid, E. coli, and other waterborne diseases in the refugee camps.
Comprehensive health service delivery remains weak, fragmented, and overburdened. Additionally, challenges to seeking and utilizing essential health care are geographic distance to facilities, and cultural and gender-related barriers. In many areas throughout Kutupalong, healthcare services are insufficient due to poor road infrastructure in these hard-to-reach areas and the sheer terrain of the landscape. Lack of national health care providers, and delays in procuring medical supplies continues to impact service provision and limit the number of days the satellite/outreach clinics are operational.
Medical Teams International
Medical Teams International is carrying out a long-term, three-pronged program as part of the Joint Rohingya Response Program (JRRP).
1. Community based health education, referrals and follow up through a network of Community Health Workers.
2. Health Posts to provide basic curative package of services including Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH), child health, adolescent health, and nutrition.
3. Primary Health Clinics to provide an expanded package of services including OPD, IPD, normal deliveries (SVD) and emergency referrals.
Airlink, in partnership with the Emirates Airline Foundation, has supported flights for 26 doctors, nurses, coordination staff, and other medical professionals. Thus far, medical personnel in the JRRP have seen more than 6,000 patients directly, treating for upper and lower respiratory tract infections, gastritis, mumps, measles, diphtheria and more. Staff and volunteers have trained more than 400 Community Health Workers (CHWs) in hygiene promotion, nutrition, maternal health care, outbreak response, psychological first aid and mental health, and other areas. These CHWs in turn see around 50,000 unique individuals each month. The JRRP have also led a diphtheria vaccination campaign in the camps that has led to vaccination of more than 430,000 people.
Global Outreach Doctors
Airlink, in partnership with the Emirates Airline Foundation, has supported flights for 6 medical professionals.
Global Outreach Doctors (GoDocs) is currently working in Unchiprang and Shamlapur camps, where they serve between 180 and 300 people per day and address respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, including cholera, diphtheria, and dysentery, as well as trauma/wound care and psychosocial support. Moving forward, GoDocs will be working with the WHO to operate remote clinics in the camps and to extricate sick patients from deep within the camps. Almost all of the clinics currently operating in the refugee camps only treat the patients on the perimeter roads, and it is up to the patients to make the long journey – often several hours – to the clinic. Additionally, the organization will be working with Migrant Offshore Aid Station to perform swift water rescue and address the critical medical needs of refugees coming ashore by fishing boat.
The Syrian Refugee Crisis:
In early 2011, Syrian unrest and fighting prompted Syrians to leave their homes. In the past seven years, more than 5,600,000 people have fled Syria and 6,600,000 are internally displaced.
Refugees and those internally displaced are suffering from lack of medical care, poor sanitation, food shortages, and homelessness. In the overcrowded refugee camps, a major concern is healthcare as people live in close quarters with few resources to care for themselves or their families.
International Medical Corps
In the more than seven years since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Airlink has supported shipments of medical aid and personnel transportation to Greece and Jordan to assist those living in the refugee camps
With more than 656,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, International Medical Corps has trained over 1,300 staff and provided a range of health, mental health and protection services for more than 350,000 Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians. International Medical Corps has been the only provider of health care services in Azraq Refugee Camp, including the operation of three clinics and one maternity hospital, and their teams also reach underserved populations in the south of Jordan with primary health care through mobile medical units. In addition, International Medical Corps contributed to the establishment of a rehabilitation center in Mafraq, where war-wounded refugees receive physical rehabilitation and psychosocial support, including case management and referrals.
At Azraq and Za’atari camps and in urban areas, International Medical Corps provides mental health care, child protection services, protection case management, and youth empowerment programming to care for some of the most vulnerable people as a result of this crisis – children under 18.
Mobile Medics International
Airlink partnered with United Airlines to deliver two Mobile Medics International volunteers to Greece this winter.
The short staffing of the medical clinics in severely overcrowded registration camps, inadequate shelter and sanitation, as well as the conditions in which refugees travel across the Mediterranean, can acutely exacerbate or cause a life-threatening deterioration in the health of people with chronic conditions. Winter months sees an increase in medical needs due to the cold. It also is the time that the least number of qualified medical providers volunteer. The volunteers assisted in medical clinics in the two main registration camps, Kara Tepe and Moria, as well as helping with with boat spotting and beach landings, and assessing critical medical needs as soon as Syrian refugees come ashore.
Airlink is a nonprofit connecting humanitarian organizations and the aviation sector to deliver disaster responders and supplies in the wake of humanitarian crises worldwide.