The Covid 19 pandemic is a rare example in modern times that has posed challenges around the world. It is imperative that the interventions, challenges, improvisation of service delivery in a refugee camp are documented.
The scope of this document is limited to access to services targeting only people with disabilities and the elderly. A sector challenge was included in the questionnaire and conducted from the point of view of the availability and accessibility of said services for people with disabilities and older people in particular.
The terminology used in this document specifically related to persons with disabilities and the elderly is used based on the following international definitions:
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol (CRPD, 2006, A / RES / 61/106) define persons with disabilities as “includes those who have a long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment who, in interaction with various obstacles can hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others ”.
The United Nations defines the elderly as those over the age of 60.
As of September 7, 2021, Azraq camp hosted a total of 38,333 refugees. UNHCR has a total of 1,418 people with disabilities registered as of May 2021. The number of elderly people in the camp in September was 825 people3. At the onset of the Corona virus in early 2020, in March, the Kingdom of Jordan underwent total containment which limited the movement of people. Those living in the Azraq refugee camp have also undergone the confinement measure. Ensure continuous access to the service; UNHCR, SRAD and operational partners continued to stay and diligently enforce the security measures provided by the Ministry of Health in Jordan.
While efforts were in place, people with disabilities and the elderly face layers of challenges that stem not only from physical limitations, but also from invisible underlying medical conditions, low self-esteem, perceptions. and acceptance of family and community members who exacerbate their access and challenges. In some situations, the positive protection of family members can lead to involuntary isolation, as stated by one mother, who is caring for her adult son. He has disabilities and autoimmunity issues: “I’ve kept him at home now with the pandemic and won’t let him out for his own safety, I’m afraid if he contracts Covid 19 it will seriously affects. ” The risk between people with certain types of disabilities and Covid19 is legitimate. Especially those who have physical difficulties that affect their immune system, a lung infection or other related factors that can put them at a higher risk of serious complications. So this mother’s worry and actions seem legitimate, but it limits the mobility and interaction of those affected with others, subjecting them to further isolation. In addition, people with disabilities are at an increased risk of Covid 19 as they may encounter obstacles in implementing basic hygiene measures, difficulties in physical distancing due to the need for additional support and the need to touch objects in their environment to obtain information. They often have greater health care needs and poorer health outcomes. As such, the fear of people with disabilities and their family members to ensure their safety and well-being results in extreme measures, as noted above.
Likewise, for the elderly, the risks of Covid 19 associated with mortality or the development of severe symptoms of Covid 19 leading to mortality have affected people in the camp. In addition to coping with reduced physical abilities to perform tasks, the illness associated with old age and the coping mechanism of isolation has added tremendous anxiety to the elderly.
In terms of program implementation for service providers, the move to the virtual platform was introduced quickly to ensure continuity of services. Vocational training and access to education, among others, has been moved to an online platform. While the community quickly adopted this new method, it was not without challenges such as adapting to the new format which excluded real human interaction which provided space for questions and answers, direct observation and guidance, the lack of smart devices to enable such a connection, digital illiteracy and illiteracy that hamper the use or understanding of apps on smart devices. People with disabilities and the elderly facing situations such as severe visual or hearing impairment, intellectual disability, unfamiliarity with smart devices to communicate or other uses make the online platform a difficult one. to work with. Those who require specialized in-person treatment like occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physiotherapy have been unable to do so, and caregivers may or may not have the knowledge and ability to fill in the gaps.
As such, it is critical that the challenges facing those of concern to older adults and people with disabilities in times of covid are identified and recorded to help shape our responses and subsequent service delivery.