UNODC roll out Covid-19 Emergency Humanitarian Response in the Country

Matewele on the left handing over the PPE's to Paul Nyalani the one on the right

United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) has provided Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) to five Shelters of survivors of trafficking in persons.

UNODC Project Coordinator, Maxwell Matewere disclosed this on Thursday in Lilongwe after handing over the PPEs to the Shelters in Mchinji.

He said his Office was working with five shelters for the survivors of trafficking in persons in the country hence the provision of the PPEs to help them in their every day work.

Matewere pledged to strengthen their technical capacity in identifying and respond to cases of returnees who are survivors of trafficking in persons in the context of Covid-19.

The Project Coordinator recalled that government declared a state of disaster in March 2020 and launched a National Covid-19 Multi-Sector Response Plan highlighting an investment need of US$194 million to effectively combat the pandemic.

Matewere said UNODC join other UN agencies in the country including International Organization on Migration (IOM), United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have been allocated funds through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Acceleration Fund to strengthen Covid-19 capacity for frontline officials and border communities to respond to the needs of most vulnerable populations.

“The interventions are aimed at strengthening the capacity of the government, frontline officials in providing risk communication, screening at the Points of Entry (PoE) for purposes of identification and referral for further management of suspected COVID-19 cases, conducting surveillance for vulnerable migrant groups,” he added.

Matewere noted that since May 24, 2020, there has been a surge in the number of Malawian self-payer returnees from high risk countries within the SADC region and from Europe predominantly from South Africa and the UK respectively and to a lesser extent the Gulf Region.

“Some of the nationals where returnees are coming from include; South Africa, Zimbabwe, UK, Mozambique, and Tanzania due to challenges caused by Corona virus,” he explained

Matewere said it is being reported by the Points of Entry Officials (PoE) that other returnees are opting to use unchartered route when entering the country from high-risk countries hence increasing the risk of Covid-19 transmission in country.

He added that the returnees are not being screened for Covid-19 as there are no Covid-19 screening facilities in unchartered entry points.

Chairperson for Mchinji District Committee Against Traffic in Persons, Haswell Jimu thanked UNODC for considering the plight of care givers and protection of returnees who are survivors of trafficking in person.

He assured UNDOC that the PPEs would be put in right use in order to see the survivors and returnees better.

Protection Officer, Paul Nyalani said members working in the shelters need to be safe guarding when discharging their duties.

He said Covid-19 has brought a lot of challenges which need to be looked into to avoid further spread of the disease in the country.